Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Did You Ever Make a Phonograph Record? -- February 5, 2014

This ad, from the 29-January-1911 New York Tribune, touts the ability of the Edison Phonograph to do home recording.  All the statements in the ad are true.  The cylinders could be recycled by shaving off a layer of wax. 

I received a cassette recorder as a birthday present when I was in the Fifth Grade, but I had been reading a lot about early phonographs, so I wanted to reproduce one.  The Scout manual had an activity for making a phonograph out of a cone of paper and a toothpick.  I found it didn't work very well and was awfully hard on the records.  Based on my reading, I used a balloon to make a diagram and stuck a needle through it so the needle projected below the bottom of the tube.  That worked better.  It inspired me to try to make records using paraffin or other waxes.  I couldn't get enough energy into the diaphragm and needle to carve a good groove. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

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