Skip to main content
Select Source:

Phonograph Records

314. Phonograph Records

audiophile
a person especially interested in high-fidelity sound equipment and recordings on tape or disks.
audiophilia
1. the state or condition of an audiophile.
2. the state of one who listens to high-fidelity equipment solely for the quality of reproduction. audiophilic, adj.
discography, diskography
1. a list of musical recordings, usually with commentary, often concerning one composer, performer, or performing group.
2. the analysis, history, or classification of musical recordings.
3. the methods of such analysis or classification. discographer, diskographer, n. discographical, diskographical, adj.
discophily, diskophily
the zealous study and collection of phonograph records. Also called phonophily . discophile, diskophile, n.
gramophile
British. a lover and collector of phonograph records.
gramophone
British. phonograph.
graphophone
an instrument for reproducing sound from records; a phonograph; a gramophone.
nickelodeon
a juke-box, record-player, or player piano operated by the insertion of a nickel or other coin. See also 159. FILMS .
phonophily
discophily.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph Records." -Ologies and -Isms. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph Records." -Ologies and -Isms. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph-records

"Phonograph Records." -Ologies and -Isms. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph-records

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

phonograph

pho·no·graph / ˈfōnəˌgraf/ • n. a record player. ∎  chiefly hist. an early sound-reproducing machine that used cylinders to record as well as reproduce sound. DERIVATIVES: pho·no·graph·ic / ˌfōnəˈgrafik/ adj.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"phonograph." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"phonograph." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph-0

"phonograph." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

phonograph

phonograph. Same as gramophone and used in USA. The term was devised by Edison for his recording machine, the record or wax cylinder being called a phonogram.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"phonograph." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"phonograph." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph

"phonograph." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

phonograph

phonograph: see record player.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"phonograph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"phonograph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

"phonograph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

phonograph

phonographbarf, behalf, calf, chaff, coif, giraffe, Graf, graph, half, laugh, scarf, scrum half, staff, strafe, wing half •headscarf • mooncalf • bar graph •telegraph • polygraph • epigraph •serigraph • cardiograph • radiograph •spectrograph • micrograph •lithograph • heliograph •choreograph • tachograph •stylograph • holograph • seismograph •chronograph, monograph •phonograph • paragraph •cinematograph • pictograph •autograph • photograph • flagstaff •jackstaff • distaff • tipstaff • epitaph •pikestaff • cenotaph

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"phonograph." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"phonograph." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph

"phonograph." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Phonograph

Phonograph

Resources

The first practical device for recording and reproducing sound was developed by American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (18471931) in 1877. He called his device a phonograph, meaning sound writer, because of the crude, mechanically cut impressions, or writing, it made on the surface of the recording cylinder. The sound reproduction was equally crude. Since the time of Edisons phonograph, the quest for more perfect sound recording and reproduction has led to the electric record player, stereophonic sound, tape players, compact disc (CD) players, and digital versatile disc (DVD) devices.

Sound is a vibratory motion of particles in a medium, such as air, and it propagates as weak pressure pulsations known as acoustic waves. Any method for recording and reproducing sound utilizes the ability of these pressure waves to produce or imprint, in the physical condition or form of a certain body known as the recording medium. Subsequently, these changes can be converted back into sound waves similar to the originals. Perfectly reproduced sound waves have exactly the same component frequencies and the same relative intensities as the originals, without any losses or additions. There are four basic techniques for the audio record-retrieval process: mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and digital.

In the simplest mechanical recording, the air pressure waves directly actuate a very thin membrane connected to a needle. To amplify the intensity of the impact on the membrane, sound waves are let in through a horn, where the acoustic energy is concentrated on a small area. Driven by the membrane vibrations, the needle cuts a continuous groove in the moving surface of the recording medium. To reproduce the sound, a second needle traces the imparted groove, forcing the attached diaphragm to oscillate and, thus, to produce sound waves.

This principle was employed by two constructively different early sound recording and reproduction instrumentsEdisons phonograph (1877) and German-American inventor Emile Berlines (1851 1929) gramophone (1887). The phonograph used a cylindrical recording medium. The needle, which moved up and down, cut the groove in the cylinder vertically. The recording medium for the gramophone was a disc with the groove cut laterally, from side to side. Both devices reproduced sound of limited volume and low quality, since the horn picked up only a small fraction of the acoustic energy passing through the air. However, the gramophone disc format, unlike its competitor, turned out to be suitable for the mass manufacturing of record copies and eventually pushed the Edison phonograph out of the market in 1929, while the gramophone was reborn as the electric record player.

In the electrical technique of recording, the acoustic waves are not directly transferred to the recording stylus. First, they have to be transformed into a tiny electric current in the microphone. The strength of the current depends upon the sound intensity, and the frequency of the current corresponds to the sound pitch. After amplification, the electric signals are converted into the motion of the stylus, cutting a lateral groove in a disc. During playback, mechanical oscillations of the stylus, or needle, in the record groove are translated by the pick-up into electric oscillations, which are amplified and interpreted as sound waves in a loud speaker. This innovation tremendously extended the frequency range of sound waves that could be recorded and reproduced. For over 40 years, electrical recording was continuously refined, but even very sophisticated improvements could not eliminate the limits imposed by the most vulnerable needle-groove part of the process. Because of the mechanical friction, sound impressions inevitably wore out, and the reproduction quality irreversibly degraded with each playback.

The magnetic recording process, based on the principles of electromagnetism, uses the recording medium in the form of a tape coated with magnetically sensitive particles. In this method, the electric current initiated by the sound waves in the microphone produces an electromagnetic field, which changes in accordance with the audio signals. When the tape passes through this field, the latter magnetizes the particles, called domains, making them behave as small compass needles, each aligning with the direction of the magnetic force. Moving past a receptor head during playback, domains induce electric current that can be translated into the audio signals. Introduced in the 1940s, the first tape recorders immediately won the appreciation of professionals for lownoise and wide-range-frequency characteristics of the reproduced sound. Moreover, the tape format opened opportunities for long uninterrupted recordings, which could be later easily edited or erased, allowing for reuse of the tape. In the 1960s, the tape was placed in compact cassettes, and tape recorders became versatile and reliable devices with applications far beyond just entertainment.

In the 1970s, new technologies, such as electronic digital processing and lasers, made the electrical technique obsolete. The new recording medium, however, retained the disc format. In digital sound recording, the electric signals from the microphone are converted into a digital code, or sequences of numbers. This digital code is etched into the surface of a compact 5.1 in (13 cm) diameter disc by a powerful concentrated light beam from a laser. The information from the master disc can be duplicated with absolute accuracy to any number of discs. In the playback device, called a compact disc (CD) player, the light beam of a less powerful laser reads the code etched on the disc and sends it through the long chain of transformations that finally result in the sound with a quality superior to anything previous technologies could give. The absence of mechanical friction in the reproducing process makes the lifetime of a compact disc longer than the lifetime of the technology itself.

Modern developments in digital sound recording and reproducing include the design of minidisc (MD) machinesa new generation of CD players using smaller discs and also capable of recording. DVDs are also very popular for recording the video and audio from movies and other such venues, and of recording large amounts of information that are over the storage capabilities of CDs.

One of the challenges for any new audio technology is remaining compatible with its predecessors. Given the current rate of audio evolution, it seems inevitable that one generation of consumers will have to deal with several technologies, each excluding the other. This would mean the unjustified waste of resources and real difficulties with preservation of the already accumulated audio information. That is why backward compatibility is the most practical and desirable feature for any future sound recording and reproduction technology.

Resources

BOOKS

Gelatt, Roland. The Fabulous Phonograph 18771977. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1977.

McPherson, Alan, and Howard Timms. The Audio-Visual Handbook: A Complete Guide to the World of Audio-visual Techniques. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1988.

Millard, A.J. America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press., 2005.

PERIODICALS

Canby E. T. Tapeless Recording. Audio 78 (December 1994). Fox B. The Face of a New Technology. New Scientist 139 (July 17, 1993).

Elena V. Ryzhov

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph-0

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Phonograph

Phonograph

Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877 opened up a world of recorded sound and created one of the great entertainment industries. The phonograph made it possible to reproduce sounds at will, and the machine eventually emerged as a critical step in the mechanization of leisure time. The first talking machine, the phonograph was an entertainment technology encased in a piece of furniture; its acceptance into millions of homes made it an important forerunner for the radio and television sets that became the center of home life entertainment in the twentieth century.

The technology of sound recording was conceived as an accessory to the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell's invention was aimed primarily at businessmen, and it followed that once a message was transmitted there should be a device to make a permanent record of it. Thomas Edison was heavily involved in improving all aspects of Bell's telephone and he stumbled upon the principles of acoustic sound recording in the fall of 1877. He found that the sound vibrations of his voice were strong enough to power a stylus to cut a signal into a revolving sheet of tinfoil. Even his own laboratory staff were surprised to hear a faint reproduction of his voice when the tinfoil was rerun under the stylus.

Edison was only one of many inventors and scientists experimenting in telephony and in the years after his famous invention of 1877 several important improvements were made to his phonograph—wax cylinders were used instead of sheets of tinfoil, spring motors replaced hand powered cranks, and a disc format for the recording medium was developed. The latter was the work of the inventor Emile Berliner, who called his machine the Gramophone. Both phonographs and gramophones were based on the same technology; only the format of the record was different. Two large business organizations were founded on each format and the competition between cylinder and disc lasted until the late 1920s when Edison phased out the production of cylinders. Despite the demise of the cylinder-playing phonograph Americans continued to call their talking machines "phonographs" while Europeans called theirs "gramophones," regardless of make or format.

Acoustic sound recording technology was as yet too primitive to be adopted by businessmen; subsequently, the only commercial applications were found in entertainment. First people paid to hear their own voices and then they paid to listen to music. The demand for prerecorded cylinders and discs was so great that the manufacturers of talking machines moved into studio recording and the mass production of records. They recorded all types of popular music—patriotic band music, sentimental Irish and German ballads for immigrants, bawdy songs and the ethnic humor of vaudeville, and selections from opera and classical music.

As mass production techniques were applied to the manufacture of talking machines, more customers had to be found to maintain sales levels, so more types of music were recorded. By 1914 the manufacturers of talking machines had recorded the music of every immigrant group in the United States—including those from Asia—and had delved into the nostalgic antebellum past to recycle the music of the minstrel show, the "coon" songs that made fun of the slaves.

It was not until the 1920s that the manufacturers discovered two groups of customers who would sustain their business for much of the century: African Americans and rural folk. In 1920 the Okeh record company discovered the enormous untapped market of black urban consumers with the phenomenal sales of "Crazy Blues," sung by Mamie Smith. This began the craze for blues and jazz records in the 1920s that prompted the author F. Scott Fitzgerald to label the decade "the jazz age." In 1927 the RCA company sent Ralph Peer to the South to record local music. He recruited (among others) Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family to sing for the recording machine and enshrined them as the pioneers of country music. During the Great Depression, when sales of records dried up, the demand for "hick discs" sold in general stores or by mail order was an important source of income for the record companies.

The introduction of radio and electronic recording in the 1920s dramatically extended the capabilities of sound recording and reproduction but did little to change the role of the phonograph in popular culture. Nearly every household in the United States had a talking machine and a collection of records in the living room as a source of entertainment. Radio initially cut into sales of phonographs but over time the two learned to coexist; radio depended on recorded sound as a primary source of programming and the phonograph companies found that radio was a good way to introduce new recordings to a national audience. The industry of recorded sound survived the Great Depression and by the 1940s recordings of swing music were selling in the millions of units.

Recorded sound defined popular music in the twentieth century and the record companies determined how it was categorized. Rock 'n' roll bridged the gap between country music for the white audience and rhythm and blues for the black in the late 1950s. The musical tastes of the baby boom generation born after the end of World War II drove the industry of recorded sound in the 1960s and 1970s, as rock 'n' roll on vinyl 45-rpm discs was gradually supplanted by art rock and psychedelic rock recorded on long playing discs.

Although generations of users had learned how to place a needle on a revolving disc and ignore the scratches and pops as it travelled along the groove, the phonograph still suffered from short playing times and lack of a recording capability. Magnetic tape recording proved to be the solution to these problems, and the introduction of the first tape cassettes in the 1960s signalled the beginning of decline for the phonograph. During the 1970s sales of the Philips compact audio cassette equalled those of phonograph records and a tape recorder became an essential part of the home entertainment center. A new form of sound recording based on digital encoding was introduced in the 1980s. The compact disc offered virtually noiseless recordings, ease of operation, and much longer recording times. Slowly, phonograph records disappeared from retail stores and the end was predicted for a technology that was now over a hundred years old. Yet many music lovers refused to throw away their phonographs, and the manufacture of needles and record players continued into the l990s.

—Andre Millard

Further Reading:

Eisenberg, Evan. Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture. London, Picador, 1987.

Frow, George, and Albert Self. The Edison Cylinder Phonograph. Sevenoaks, Kent, United Kingdom, Frow, 1978.

Koenigsberg, Allan. The Patent History of the Phonograph. Brooklyn, APM Press, 1990.

Millard, Andre. America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

"Phonograph." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Phonograph

Phonograph

The first practical device for recording and reproducing sound was developed by Thomas A. Edison in 1877. He called his device a phonograph, meaning sound writer, because of the crude, mechanically cut impressions, or "writing," it made on the surface of the recording cylinder. The sound reproduction was equally crude. Since the time of Edison's phonograph, the quest for more perfect sound recording and reproduction has led to the electric record player, stereophonic sound, tape players, and compact disc players.

Sound is a vibratory motion of particles in a medium, such as air, and it propagates as weak pressure pulsations known as acoustic waves. Any method for recording and reproducing sound utilizes the ability of these pressure waves to produce or imprint, in the physical condition or form of a certain body known as the recording medium. Subsequently, these changes can be converted back into sound waves similar to the originals. Perfectly reproduced sound waves have exactly the same component frequencies and the same relative intensities as the originals, without any losses or additions. There are four basic techniques for the audio "record-retrieval" process: mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and digital.

In the simplest mechanical recording, the air pressure waves directly actuate a very thin membrane connected to a needle. To amplify the intensity of the impact on the membrane, sound waves are let in through a horn, where the acoustic energy is concentrated on a small area. Driven by the membrane vibrations, the needle cuts a continuous groove in the moving surface of the recording medium. To reproduce the sound, a second needle traces the imparted groove, forcing the attached diaphragm to oscillate and, thus, to produce sound waves. This principle was employed by two constructively different early sound recording and reproduction instruments—Edison's phonograph (1877) and E. Berliner gramophone (1887). The phonograph used a cylindrical recording medium. The groove in the cylinder was cut vertically by the needle moving up and down. The recording medium for the gramophone was a disc with the groove cut laterally, from side to side. Both devices reproduced sound of limited volume and low quality, since the horn picked up only a small fraction of the acoustic energy passing through the air. However, the gramophone disc format, unlike its competitor, turned out to be suitable for the mass manufacturing of record copies and eventually pushed the Edison phonograph out of the market in 1929, while the gramophone was reborn as the electric record player.

In the electrical technique of recording, the acoustic waves are not directly transferred to the recording stylus. First they have to be transformed into a tiny electric current in the microphone. The strength of the current depends upon the sound intensity, and the frequency of the current corresponds to the sound pitch. After amplification, the electric signals are converted into the motion of the stylus, cutting a lateral groove in a disc. During playback, mechanical oscillations of the stylus, or needle, in the record groove are translated by the pickup into electric oscillations, which are amplified and interpreted as sound waves in a loud speaker. This innovation tremendously extended the frequency range of sound waves that could be recorded and reproduced. For over 40 years, electrical recording was continuously refined, but even very sophisticated improvements could not eliminate the limits imposed by the most vulnerable "needle-groove" part of the process. Because of the mechanical friction , sound "impressions" inevitably wore out, and the reproduction quality irreversibly degraded with each playback.

The magnetic recording process, based on the principles of electromagnetism , uses the recording medium in the form of a tape coated with magnetically sensitive particles. In this method, the electric current initiated by the sound waves in the microphone produces an electro-magnetic field which changes in accordance with the audio signals. When the tape passes through this field, the latter magnetizes the particles, called domains, making them behave as small compass needles, each aligning with the direction of the magnetic force . Moving past a receptor head during playback, domains induce electric current that can be translated into the audio signals. Introduced in the 1940s, the first tape recorders immediately won the appreciation of professionals for low-noise and wide-range-frequency characteristics of the reproduced sound. Moreover, the tape format opened opportunities for long uninterrupted recordings, which could be later easily edited or erased, allowing for reuse of the tape. In the 1960s, the tape was placed in compact cassettes, and tape recorders became versatile and reliable devices with applications far beyond just entertainment.

In the 1970s, new technologies, such as electronic digital processing and lasers, made the electrical technique obsolete. The new recording medium, however, retained the disc format. In digital sound recording, the electric signals from the microphone are converted into a digital code, or sequences of numbers. This digital code is etched into the surface of a compact 5.1 in (13 cm) diameter disc by a powerful concentrated light beam from a laser . The information from the master disc can be duplicated with absolute accuracy to any number of discs. In the playback device, called a compact disc (CD) player, the light beam of a less powerful laser reads the code etched on the disc and sends it through the long chain of transformations that finally result in the sound with a quality superior to anything previous technologies could give. The absence of mechanical friction in the reproducing process makes the lifetime of a compact disc longer than the lifetime of the technology itself.

Modern developments in digital sound recording and reproducing include the MiniDisc (MD) machines—a new generation of CD-players using smaller discs and also capable of recording.

One of the challenges for any new audio technology is remaining compatible with its predecessors. Given the current rate of audio evolution , it seems inevitable that one generation of consumers will have to deal with several technologies, each excluding the other. This would mean the unjustified waste of resources and real difficulties with preservation of the already accumulated audio information. That is why backward compatibility is the most practical and desirable feature for any future sound recording and reproduction technology.

Resources

books

Gelatt, R. The Fabulous Phonograph 1877-1977. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1977.

McPherson, A., and H. Timms. The Audio-Visual Handbook. Watson-Guptill Publications, 1988.


periodicals

Canby, E. T. "Tapeless Recording." Audio 78 (December 1994).

Fox, B. "The Face of a New Technology." New Scientist 139 (July 17, 1993).


other

Whyte, B. "Battle of the Formats." Audio 75 (September 1991).


Elena V. Ryzhov

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

"Phonograph." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Phonograph

Phonograph



The phonograph gave birth to the modern recording industry. Without it, there would not be records, cassette tapes, compact discs, or digital MP3s. Invented by Thomas Edison (1837–1931) in 1877, the phonograph proved to be one of the most influential technologies in history. The phonograph revolutionized entertainment and the field of music throughout the twentieth century until cassette tapes began crowding out the medium in the 1970s and then compact disc (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) technology replaced it in the 1990s.

Edison's invention came from his experiments attempting to record and preserve phone conversations. When he discovered that a human voice could cut a signal into tinfoil, the origins of the modern phonograph were born. Edison improved the device using wax cylinders and later adopted a disc format developed by Emile Berliner (1851–1929). Although the phonograph did not take off as a way to record and preserve phone calls, it did find great popularity in the entertainment world, spawning the modern recording industry in the 1910s. Before this time, people could only hear music played live or make their own music, and most people heard only a limited amount and variety of music. The phonograph changed all that. As phonographs became cheaper to buy, more people could afford them. Record companies responded by producing records of all sorts. There were blues (see entry under 1920s—Music in volume 2) and jazz (see entry under 1900s—Music in volume 1) records, country music (see entry under 1940s—Music in volume 3), big band (see entry under 1930s—Music in volume 2) music, ethnic songs, dance music, classical symphonies, speeches, and many more kinds of records. The phonograph was especially popular with people in rural areas and with poor and middle-class people. People in rural areas lived too far away to attend live music concerts, and poor and middle-class people could not afford to hear symphony orchestras very often, if at all.

The phonograph proved to be an instrument of social change as well. In the 1950s, rock and roll (see entry under 1950s—Music in volume 3) was successful largely because teenagers could afford to purchase rock-and-roll 45-rpm singles to play on their phonographs. (Singles were called 45s because the recordings were played at a speed of 45 revolutions of the turntable per minute.) Because they could choose the records, rather than having adults on the radio (see entry under 1920s—TV and Radio in volume 2) choose their music, teenagers helped spur rock and roll on to great success, spawning a whole era of teen rebellion. In the 1960s, that tradition continued as the phonograph provided a means for folk musicians (see Folk Music entry under 1960s—Music in volume 4) to have their protest songs heard. Rock music continued pushing the boundaries of social convention and bringing new insights to young people around the world.

Few mass technologies have had such an important social impact. Eventually, the phonograph was eclipsed by the development of cassette tapes in the 1970s and of compact discs in the 1990s. Both technologies were more durable, portable, and lightweight than phonographs (by now, also called turntables). Despite this, many people still collect vinyl records and restore old phonographs, keeping the technology alive.


—Timothy Berg


For More Information

Eisenberg, Evan. Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture. London: Picador, 1987.

Koenigsbert, Allan. The Patent History of the Phonograph. Brooklyn, NY: APM Press, 1990.

Millard, Andre. America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/culture-magazines/phonograph

"Phonograph." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/culture-magazines/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Phonograph

PHONOGRAPH.

THE PHONOGRAPH AND ANTI-AMERICANISM
BIBLIOGRAPHY

During the last half of the nineteenth century the idea of recording sound waves began to develop on both sides of the Atlantic. In France on 25 March 1857 Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (1817–1879) received a French patent for the "phonautograph," which made a visual image of sound waves on a cylinder, but did not play or reproduce any sounds. On 30 April 1877 another Frenchman, Charles M. Cros (1842–1888), deposited with the Academy of Sciences in Paris a description of a process for mechanically reproducing spoken words. On 24 December 1877 the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) patented in the United States a machine that actually reproduced sound. Edison thus won the battle with Cros by inventing and then commercializing an actual "talking machine" that used cylinders. He was convinced that neither abstract ideas nor patent law alone would assure to inventors the fruits of their work. As a result, he and other American inventors quickly moved from invention to manufacturing and marketing.

From an early date Europeans made major contributions to recorded musical styles, provided influential recording artists, eagerly purchased recorded-sound products, patented and marketed their own inventions, and made financial investments that helped to create manufacturing plants in their countries. For example, Emile Berliner (1851–1929), a German inventor who emigrated to Washington, D.C., developed the microphone, the flat recording disc, and the gramophone player. His flat-disc recordings eventually replaced the more fragile and unwieldy Edison cylinders. In 1898 Berliner created the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, a company that pressed discs in Hanover, Germany, for the European market. He also organized the Berliner Gramophone Company of London, which marketed spring-driven playback machines in Britain and on the Continent.

American recording engineer/talent scouts such as Fred Gaisberg (1873–1951), who worked for Berliner, crisscrossed Europe recording such great opera singers as Enrico Caruso (1873–1921) and Nellie Melba (1861–1931). In this way and others, American inventors/entrepreneurs of recorded music vastly expanded their business, first through their affiliate companies and then through multinational conglomerates. As early as 1888 Edison marketed a phonograph through his Edison Phonograph Co. of the British Isles; the same organization re-exported them to Europe.

In the 1880s and 1890s the three leading American companies that came to control most of the important patents—Edison's National Phonograph Company, the Victor Talking Machine Company, and the Columbia Graphophone Company—set up affiliates in London, Paris, Hanover, St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Madrid. The Big Three, as they were known, dominated the recorded music business through their European affiliates until World War I seriously disrupted business. Nevertheless, from an early date, the influential French firm les Phonographes Pathé, founded in Paris in 1894 to demonstrate and market Edison products, subsequently manufactured its own cylinders, records, and playback machines. Pathé's records and machines were successful throughout Europe. It established offices from St. Petersburg to Madrid and New York City during the years between 1912 and 1929. So too, the German Carl Lindstrom Company established factories in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Poland, Britain, Argentina, and Brazil.

The ingenuity and business acumen of American phonograph/record companies played a central role in bringing the Jazz Age to France on 78-rpm discs during the 1920s. Many French people who would never have heard jazz in a nightclub or dance hall purchased imported jazz records for enjoyment at home. Jazz recordings became a key staple in left-bank bohemian circles, and Charles Delaunay (1911–1988), son of the famous modernist painters Robert (1885–1941) and Sonia Delaunay (1885–1979), compiled the first jazz record discography.

The commercialization of radio in the 1920s, the growing economic crisis of the 1930s, and the outbreak of World War II again created serious setbacks for recorded-sound industries, especially in France. The factories of PathéFrères, for example, had been turned to the war effort so that the company was unable to adopt the new technology of electrical recording; its diminishing markets exposed it to absorption in 1931 into the British conglomerate EMI (Electric and Musical Industries) the first of the global music corporations.

The triumph of the Allies in World War II, as well as the defeat of Germany, set in motion an intense period of growing American cultural influence in Europe, one that became particularly controversial among some intellectuals in France. American technology introduced the long-playing, 33⅓-rpm record in France in 1951; the twelve-inch disc with micro-grooves provided running times six times longer than the old 78-rpm records and at half the price. As in the 1920s jazz was once again the major style preferred by French purchasers of American records. In the 1950s Edouard Ruault (1921–2005), a jazz pianist, changed his name to Eddie Barclay and founded Barclay Records, issuing both American and French albums that made his company the top music-production enterprise in France during the 1950s and 1960s. The "electrophone" and imported American LPs (les disques noirs) of the Vogue and Barclay labels became major consumer items of the postwar French Baby Boomer generation, who preferred them to the automobile, motor scooter, radio, and television set.

THE PHONOGRAPH AND ANTI-AMERICANISM

Claims by some left-wing French intellectuals, particularly communists, that post–World War II American media expansion amounted to cultural imperialism have been disputed by historians on both sides of the Atlantic who see the phonograph as one of several different elements in a broader process of modernization of French life, a movement that included urbanization, new patterns of industrialization, technology, media, and consumer society. Moreover, the phonograph and recordings have often been lumped into anti-American generalizations actually focused on the film industry. In fact, the export business of recorded sound was not in itself an overwhelming economic force and relied upon radio play to increase its sales. Moreover, compared to Hollywood films, records and record players were far less obviously American since conglomerates recorded French, American, French-influenced American, and American-influenced French music on nationally ambiguous labels such as Vogue.

The 12-inch vinyl 33⅓-rpm LP record enjoyed twenty-five years of astounding growth in Europe before declining markedly in 1978 when it first encountered competition from the cassette tape. The compact disc, or CD, invented in the United States in 1982, arrived in Europe one year later, soon triumphing over the cassette. Like the LP before it, the CD then enjoyed soaring sales from 1983 to the turn of the twenty-first century, when the downloading of digital music files to computers, a revolutionary new technology for listening to recorded music, presently used by eight million French citizens, and their transfer to digital audio players, most using the MP3 format, began to take hold.

As the number of multinational conglomerates in the business of recorded music has fallen, the number of independent recording companies has risen in Western countries, and they have taken over the recording of specialized tastes in music. The biggest companies now tend to market only the most famous popular artists. As of 2006, recorded music in Europe and the United States struggles with complex issues of copyright law in a period of rapid technological change.

See alsoComputer Revolution; Jazz; Leisure; Popular Culture; Technology; Television.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Grnow, Pekka. "The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Media." Popular Music 3 (1983): 53–75.

Lefeuvre, Gildas. Le Producteur de Disques. Paris, 1994.

Millard, Andre. America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1995.

Tournes, Ludovic. "L'Americanisation de la Culture Francaise, ou la recontre d'un Model culturel conquerant et d'un Pays au Seuil de la Modernite." Historiens et Geographes (juillet/aout 1997): 65–79.

——. "Jalons Pour une Histoire Internationale de l'industrie du Disque: Expansion, Declin et Absorption de la Branche Phonographique de Pathe (1894–1936)." In Histoire des Industries/Culturelles, edited by Jacques Marseille and Patrick Eveno. Paris, 2002.

William Kenney

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Phonograph." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Phonograph." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

"Phonograph." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/phonograph

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.