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Recording devices in Smithsonian National Museum of American History - Acoustic

Recording devices in Smithsonian National Museum of American History - Acoustic

Acoustic Recording devices in the NMAH Division of the History of Technology

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  1. Edison tin foil phonograph 1879
  2. Tainter graphophone 1886
  3. Columbia graphophone 1897
  4. Berliner gramophone 1888
  5. Tainter lateral-cut disc 1881

1. Edison tin foil phonograph 1879

(#312,123) - Edison tin foil phonograph pictured above was obtained from Edison in 1879 by Gardiner G. Hubbard and given to Alexander Graham Bell for the purpose of improving the phonograph. After two years of experiments, Bell and Charles Tainter sealed this machine, called a "graphophone" by Bell, inside a tin box for deposit at the Smithsonian Oct. 20, 1881. See Tainter and the Graphophone for more information.
photos from left: PDRM0708 with flash - PDRM0710 no flash - PDRM0711 no flash - PDRM0713 no flash - PDRM0714 with flash - PDRM0715 cu of grooves on top of cylinder no flash

2. Tainter graphophone 1886

(#287,653) - The graphophone pictured above is one of the first practical devices developed at the Volta Laboratory Dec. 4, 1885 by Charles Sumner Tainter, based on his patent #341,288 granted May 4, 1886, and illustrated in the Harper's Weeklyarticle of July 17, 1886.
photos from left: PDRM0701 right side view - PDRM0702 front view - PDRM0703 left side view - PDRM0704 wax cylinder right view - PDRM0705 reproducer over cylinder - PDRM0706 wax cylinder left view - PDRM0707 reproducer over cylinder end view, no flash

3. Columbia graphophone 1897

(#312,019) - The graphophone "Eagle" model pictured above with spring motor wound by a key was introduced in 1897; the 1st metal plate reads: " The Graphophone patented May 4, 1886; Dec. 27, 1887; April 3, 1888; June 10, 1890; Oct. 16, 1894; Mar. 30, 1897; manufactured by the American Graphophone Company, Type B, No. 92896, New York, N. Y." and the bottom metal plate reads: "Columbia Phonograph Co. sole sales agent for American Graphophone Company. New York"
photos from left: PDRM0717 - left side with horn but no case, flash used - PDRM0725 left side with horn and case, flash used - PDRM0718 right side with horn and case, flash used - PDRM0721 left side showing spring motor and key and reproducer and left side of shiny mandrel

4. Berliner gramophone 1888

#271716 - Pictured above is Berliner's original gramophone of 1888 as reconstructed by Berliner in 1927 with the notation "Gramophone as shown in the first public demonstration at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, May 16, 1888. The turntable and turning mechanism are originals." The caption etched on the zinc disc on platter reads "E. Berliner's gramophone patented Nov. 8, 1887, May 13, 1888, other patents pending" and below spindle hole: "Soprano - The Sweetest Story Ever Told"
photos from left: PDRM1544 - PDRM1545 - PDRM1546e - PDRM1548 - PDRM1549 zinc disc - PDRM1550 cu of center zinc disc - PDRM1551 cu of reproducer with needle detached

5. Tainter lateral-cut disc 1881

#271716 - Tainter experimental electroplated lateral-cut disc, etched in center: "This phonogram was made Nov. 8, 1881. S. T."
photos from left:PDRM1553 - PDRM1554 cu shows lateral cut grooves - PDRM1555 - PDRM1564


- 1999 by Steven E. Schoenherr. All rights reserved.
The photos on these pages are used with permission of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. They may not be reproduced or distributed without written permission of the NMAH.

digital photos taken June 21, 1999 by Schoenherr | Return to Recording Technology History Notes | this page revised July 7, 1999
 
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