Today in Music History: Aug 12, 1877

On August 12, 2013, in News, Today in Music History, by Magnolia Guitar

edison2On this day in 1877, Thomas Edison completed the first working model of the phonograph and made the world’s first sound recording… or did he?

Edison received patents for many inventions (1,093 patents issued to him in all) for the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, motion picture recordings, and more. While detractors may argue that inventors such as Nikola Tesla should actually be given credit for some of these inventions, Edison was greatly responsible for publicizing and popularizing the new-fangled gadgets.

Edison likely finished his model for the phonograph a little later in 1877. Edison’s first phonograph cylinder recorded him reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (which led the way for Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s interpretations).

Edison had created the world’s first audio recording… that was able to be played back immediately.

In 1860 Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph. He used the device to record the vibrations of sound waves. De Martinville aimed to create an audio equivalent of photography. He recorded performances of actors and singers. However, he did not have a device that could play back the recordings. Prior to this, musicians had been recording subtle variations in tone and playing style using oscillograms, graphs of time versus sound wave amplitude.

Despite these “recordings,” for sound to be actually produced from a recording, the world would have to wait until 1877 (on or about August 12) for Edison, and another year until Edison’s Speaking Phonograph Company allowed people to begin bringing phonographs into their own homes.

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