|Edison with the 2nd model |
of his phonograph in 1878
Edison demonstrated his first phonograph, a word he also invented, on this day in 1877. Edison was not trying to invent a phonograph when he came upon the inspiration. He was trying to improve the high technology of his day, the telegraph transmitter. However, he noticed that when the paper tape was moved through the transmitter at high speed, it sounded a bit like human speech. This led him to begin experimenting with a hard needle to etch sound waves into a rotating cylinder covered with a thick tin foil. Voila! An invention is born.
|An advertisement for Edison's phonograph|
When the compact disc and digital recording came along, there was no more need for Edison's great idea of a moving membrane etching and recreating the sound. Now sound waves are electronically converted into ones and zeros and encoded on computer equipment to be turned back into sound at the press of a button. This led to the invention of the ubiquitous MP3. Now one can put 10,000 songs on a device smaller than a pack of matches.
It's also how I can share with my faithful readers a playlist of cover songs I have been collecting for many years.
Enjoy, and don't forget to say a big THANK YOU to Thomas Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park.