Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” says Edison. Yes, Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb, but not just the light bulb also, the motion picture camera and the phonograph.
On the 19th of February 1878 Thomas Edison issued the first patent for phonograph, also known as gramophone and turntable and went on to start The Columbia Gramophone Company. At that time Edison was experimenting with how a moving diaphragm linked to a coil and could produce a voice modulated signal. Meanwhile he was also experimenting with a telegraph repeater which was simply a device that used a needle to indent paper with the dots and dashes of the Morse code.
From these ideas, Edison came up with the concept of attaching the stylus from a telegraph repeater to the diaphragm in the mouthpiece of a phone. Sadly the first test didnt work but it did produce sound! That was on 1877.
The next year Edison improved the device, a band of tin foil was mounted on a cylinder and the cylinder was turned via a hand crank during the recording and the playback. Here are the first worlds recorded from Edison “Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”
“From my experiments on the telephone I knew of how to work a pawl connected to the diaphragm; and this engaging a ratchet-wheel served to give continuous rotation to a pulley. This pulley was connected by a cord to a little paper toy representing a man sawing wood. Hence, if one shouted: ‘ Mary had a little lamb,’ etc., the paper man would start sawing wood. I reached the conclusion that if I could record the movements of the diaphragm properly, I could cause such records to reproduce the original movements imparted to the diaphragm by the voice, and thus succeed in recording and reproducing the human voice.” he says.
The music critic Herman Klein attended an early demonstration of the early phonograph. He writes “It sounded to my ear like someone singing about half a mile away, or talking at the other end of a big hall; but the effect was rather pleasant, save for a peculiar nasal quality wholly due to the mechanism, though there was little of the scratching which later was a prominent feature of the flat disc. Recording for that primitive machine was a comparatively simple matter. I had to keep my mouth about six inches away from the horn and remember not to make my voice too loud if I wanted anything approximating to a clear reproduction; that was all. When it was played over to me and I heard my own voice for the first time, one or two friends who were present said that it sounded rather like mine; others declared that they would never have recognised it. I daresay both opinions were correct.”