The History of the Phonograph

The first mechanical recording of sound most probably dates back to 1853, when Edouard Lon Scott de Martinville managed to record the human voice onto sheets of blackened paper. In 1876 Thomas Alva Edison took up the work of Scott and on 21 November 1877 he announced the invention of the phonograph.
The object was made up of a brass roll, held up by a threaded axis. The cylinder had a spiral furrow traced into it and the surface was covered by a sheet of tin foil.
During recording, the cylinder rotated and the tin foil was touched by the needle that was connected to the vibrating membrane. The needle, following the oscillations of the membrane, cut a deep track into the tin foil, recording sound in this way. On 19 February 1878 Edison obtained the patent of his invention and created the “Edison Speaking Phonograph Company”. Towards 1885, a German engineer called Emile Berliner thought of using a disc in the place of the cylinder in which the needle, instead of oscillating upwards and downwards, oscillated right and left. The patent of this invention, called a Gramophone, was obtained by Berliner in 1887.
Between 1890 and the first years of the 1920s, recordings both on disc and on cylinder could be bought, and could be reproduced on a wide range of marketed apparati.
In 1908 a double-sided disc met the approval of the public, bringing even greater diffusion. Edison converted to the disc in 1912 and stopped the production of cylinders in 1929. The success of discs was due to the easiness of cutting and reproducing the incisions on a surface that was flat instead of cylindrical. System perfection brought magnetic recording, first on wire, then on tape.

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