Edison’s phonograph

Edison’s phonograph

This piece belongs to a school collection and as such is an excellent example of the work done by science cabinets in schools to further the state of knowledge by disseminating scientific and technical advances.

This device could record and reproduce sounds. It is an improved version of the first phonograph patented by Edison in 1877. The phonograph used an analogue mechanical recording system. The sound waves were transformed into mechanical vibrations by means of a membrane that acted on a stylus that scored a spherical groove on a wax-covered cylinder. The process was inverted to reproduce the recorded sounds. As the cylinder rotated, the stylus gently retraced the grooves in the wax, so reproducing the sounds. This phonograph has a large horn which amplified the sounds it reproduced. It has a plaque detailing the patents on all the modifications made by Edison to his original model between May 1888 and May 1898. On the front it has another small plaque which reads “José Bretón / Coruña”, and another one on the top with its serial number: “S34392”

Bibl.: SISTO EDREIRA, R. (1999), O patrimonio histórico-científico do Instituto Xelmírez I (Santiago de Compostela), A Coruña: Deputación Provincial da Coruña, 40.

61x31x43 cms 
Wood, metal, wax 
Cultural context:
Circa 1899. (date purchased) 
Thomas Alva Edison