Sunday, December 7, 2008

About The Phonograph

Phonograph was the first device that was used to play the recorded sound. The phonograph ruled the decades before the radio and motion picture came into existence.

Leon Scott de Martinville was the first to design the sound recording device. This was in 1855 when the first recording device came into existence. Scott got the device patented in 1857. The device was called as the phonautograph and was used as a laboratory instrument to analyze the sound. This instrument gave a foundation for the playback devices.

Edison came up with the concept of sound recording and reproduction in 1877. Another French scientist Charles Cros worked on the concept independently but was unable to come up with the working model of the machine. Thomas Edison demonstrated the model on November 29 1877 and patented the machine. It was the tinfoil phonograph.

The phonograph was an assembly of a large mouthpiece, a cylindrical drum, a diaphragm and a stylus. This tinfoil phonograph was made of a cylindrical drum which was wrapped in the tinfoil. This cylinder was then mounted on the threaded axle. The mouthpiece was attached to the diaphragm which was connected to the stylus.

As the stylus moved on the rotating foil, a vibration pattern was etched on the surface. To playback the recorded voice, the mouthpiece was replaced by the reproducer.

The era from late 1870s to early 1880s was full of discoveries in this field. In 1886 graphophone was patented by Charles Summer Tainter and Chichester Bell. This device was an improvement of the phonograph. It had the wax coated cylinder which gave clearer recording. It used floating stylus which gave clear sound conversion.

In 1887, an American scientist, Emile Berliner improved the existing species of the phonograph and came up with more improved version which he called as gramophone. He patented the device in 1887. This gramophone as we all know used the zinc disc on which the stylus moved laterally and spirally and reproduced the recorded sound.

With improved versions hitting the market the concept of phonograph parlors came into existence. First such parlor opened in San Francisco. Such parlors resembled the music parlors of today. The customers could list their choice of the music titles and enjoy their request which was played on the latest phonograph at that time.

Soon the kinetoscope came into existence in such parlors. These were coin operated. Such kinetoscope flipped the preloaded photograph in front of the customer.

Later a clockwork motor was developed and added to the Bell designed gramophones. This design was called Gramophone Grand and was the retail concept that was given by Thomas McDonald, the manager of gramophone industry.

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