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The evolution of Edison's phonograph.

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The Evolution of Edison's Phonograph After many failed attempts at producing a contraption that could record sound so as to be listened to afterwards, Thomas A. Edison, an inventor from Menlo Park, New Jersey, created the first working phonograph. Before Edison invented a working sound recorder, Charles Cros, a French Scientist, had drawn up a plan very similar to Edison's phonograph. His experiment never went beyond the planning stage. The main sound recording component of the phonograph was a metal cylinder wrapped with tinfoil. Sound was recorded when someone spoke into the mouth piece causing a stylus to vibrate and make dents in the tinfoil. To play the sound back, this process was simply reversed. The stylus would be repositioned so that the stylus would be pushing into the grooves causing the same vibrations to occur. These vibrations would be amplified and the sound would be reproduced. This type of recording was flawed in many ways. Probably the main reason people didn't like it was because you could only make one recording at a time. ...read more.


The flat disk, or "record," provided a faster and more clear way of recording sound in comparison to the cylinder used in the phonograph. When the public got word of this, the phonograph quickly became useless and no one bothered buying them any more. The fault with the record was that the player had to be hand run and the music never seemed to be at the right speed. It was either too fast or too slow. During the middle of the reign of the "record", all manufacturers of phonographs made them electrically run so that the sound would come out at an even speed. This process was perfected in the mid-1920's. Right up until 1948, all commercial records could hold about 15 minutes of recording time and ran at 78 rpm (revolutions per minute). Since the records were made of a substance called shellac, all of the records were very frail and shattered very easily. ...read more.


By the late 1960's, almost all new phonographs and records were stereophonic. One of the greatest breakthroughs in sound recording history was met by Thomas G. Stockham, Jr. when he developed the digital recording system in the 1970's. This new form of sound recording greatly improved the quality of sound recording. In this system, sound vibrations are converted into a numerical code which is stored onto a computer. This numerical code guides the microscopic cutting of the disc in a similar process as the phonograph cylinder. The sound is picked up by a concentrated laser beam to read the code which is then converted into sound. Records made by this process are called optical digital records, or very simply, compact discs. This American-born electrical engineer's invention is used every day in almost every home across the world. As you have probably noticed, Edison's invention has had a great impact on the world of sound recording and playing, right up until today. All of the sound machines we use today were all inspired by the workings of Thomas A. Edison. ...read more.

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