Thomas A. Edison Phonograph

Introducing one of our latest additions: the Thomas A. Edison Phonograph Standard Model A! Invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, the phonograph was created for the mechanical purpose to record and reproduce sound. The idea for the phonograph, or as it’s later incarnations were known as, the gramophone, was conceived during Edison’s attempts to figure out how to play back recorded telegraph messages and to automate speech sounds for telephone transmissions. Although other inventors had been able to produce similar device capable of recording sounds, the phonograph Edison invented was the first device able to reproduce the recorded sounds.

Originally the phonograph worked by recording sound onto a sheet of tinfoil wrapped around a rotating cylinder. The stylus responded by picking up the vibrations of sound spoken into the mouthpiece and indented them onto the foil on the cylinder with the recording needle. When testing his newest creation the first words Edison ever spoke into the mouthpiece was the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb”.

It was about 1910 that Edison started working on his newest version of the phonograph, the Edison Disc Phonograph. Edison, who originally only focused on using phonograph cylinders, saw the rise in popularity and domination of the market by disc records. The flat disc records were louder, had better sound quality, were less delicate, easier to store, and had a longer playing time of about 3 and a half minutes. Just like many of his other contemporaries in the flat disc market, Edison had to come up with a way to bypass the patents that were heavily enforced by the Victor Talking Machine Company’s impressive legal team. Most specifically, the needle-in-the-groove patent, a lateral recording system that recorded and played sound by using a side-to-side motion of the stylus across the record grooves. Edison decided to use his own rights to the hill and dale process, a vertical cut recording process where the stylus, using an up-and-down motion, cuts a vertical groove into a phonograph record. Originally used for his cylinder records, Edison and his teams began to come up with ways to apply that to the creation of flat disc records.

During the time there was a lot of research into phenolic resins, the first commercial synthetic resins, or the early plastics. Edison’s chemist, Jonas Alysworth, came up with a new composition called condensite, a material similar to Bakelite. Using a core made of condensite and with an outer layer of lacquer, the Diamond Disc was created. In order to accomodate the hill-and-dale recording the records had to be completely flat, and because of which they were a half inch think. The Edison Disc Phonograph, used to play the records, was fitted with a diamond stylus, usually connected by a silk linkage to the diaphragm, hence the name Diamond Disc. Because of their design, the Diamond Discs would be damaged by the disposable steel needles of ordinary disc record players. The quality of sound was far superior to anything else Edison had made, and even rivaled other companies players, however the sound came at a cost. More specifically, financial cost, caused by the additional components need to manufacture the players. Because of that the players when first introduced in 1912 costs a whopping $60 for the cheapest model compared to the competition, the Victrola IV, the lowest priced model for the Victor Talking Machine Co. at only $15.

The popularity of the Diamond Disc did eventually pick up, however the demise of the phonograph industry came as a whole during the Great Depression of the 1920’s, with the creation of the radio and the availability of free music. However without the invention of the phonograph and other vintage record players the electric phonographs, AKA record players, and eventually the turntables, might not have come about. The Edison Phonograph and Disc Phonograph are two of our newest additions at Park and 2nd Collectibles. As you can see in the videos both are fully functional and there are even recording cylinders and discs to listen to. Park and 2nd is also home to a variety of vintage records and an assortment of unique musical instruments. So whether you’re a history buff, an inspiring and appreciating inventor, or a vinyl record junkie, come on down to Park and 2nd Collectibles, located in Historic Sanford, and check out our unique collection of collectibles, vintage, and curiosities from all over. All of which have their own story to tell.

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Park and 2nd Collectibles

200 S Park Ave #100

Sanford, FL 32771

Phone: (407) 334-4560

Email: storeinfo@parkand2nd.com

Store Hours:
Mondays 10am – 4pm
Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 6pm

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