The Edison Phonograph

The first sound reproducing device was an Edison Phonograph, invented by Thomas A Edison in 1877, at Menlo Park, N. J., where he then had his laboratory. In 1887 Mr. Edison took up his residence and his laboratory work at Orange, N. J., and here, under his personal direction, the Phonograph has been developed into the wonderful musical instrument it is, known and enjoyed in the homes of every nation.

The image on this postcard (copyright 1905 by National Phonograph Co.) illustrates how amazing it must have been to first hear recorded sounds coming from the phonograph invented by Thomas Edison.

Originally the sounds were recorded and reproduced on cylinders. Flat disc records that rotated on turntables were developed by the late 1880s and co-existed with phonograph cylinders until superseding them by around 1912. The phonograph disc record was the primary medium used for music reproduction until late in the 20th century when digital media, stored on compact discs (CDs) and played on CD players became dominant. There has been some resurgence of phonograph records in the early 21st century.

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About postcardy

I am a longtime postcard collector who has been creating websites and blogs based on my postcard collection since 1998.
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10 Responses to The Edison Phonograph

  1. Wendy says:

    I agree it had to have been such a thrill, much like when Skype and Face-Time technology was introduced.


  2. kristin says:

    I don’t know about the couple in the photo having a phonograph though 😀 They don’t seem to even have electricity.


  3. That’s a wonderful Norman Rockwell-like image. For people who lived far from big city culture, the phonograph cylinders were a magic that we jaded modern folk can’t really appreciate. The irony is that Edison was deaf and had great difficulty hearing music on his own invention.


  4. jofeath says:

    You might be interested to watch this YouTube clip about a recording of an Aboriginal woman by a white man in 1903. There’s a photo of it and the singers of the song are descendants of the man and woman who made the recording.


  5. hmchargue says:

    It must have been an amazing and wonderful xperience. My grandmother was in her mid-nineties when they acquired a TV. She refused to watch it, claiming it “couldn’t be.”


  6. La Nightingail says:

    I didn’t know Edison was deaf. That IS certainly an irony – his inventing the phonograph. Kind of like Beethoven writing symphonies after he’d gone deaf. Hard to imagine the frustration.


  7. What a great postcard! Much like when some of us first watched TV on those tiny screens embedded in huge wooden boxes 🙂


  8. kerbent says:

    Great image


  9. Little Nell says:

    What a joyous picture of the couple! The woman appears to be singing along.


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