Phonograph Facts: The First Record Player And How It Changed Our Lives

Oluwatosin Michael
Nov 03, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Apr 29, 2022
The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison

If you loving listening to music, you have phonographs to thank.

The phonograph was a record player that was used to record and playback sound. They were first developed in the late 1800s and became very popular in the early 1900s.

A phonograph is a device used to record and playback sound. These were the earliest known devices that could do this.

Phonographs are credited with being one of the greatest inventions of all time. This little machine not only helped shape music and disc records as we know them today by giving artists an outlet for their creativity, but it also made entertainment more accessible than ever before for people around the world.

Yet, despite its importance, few people actually know much about this groundbreaking invention or its history.

In this article, we will explore the history of phonographs and learn some fun and interesting facts about them.

Historical Facts

The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 and was first demonstrated on December 8, 1877. In his original notes, Edison called this invention a 'tinfoil phonograph'.

The first successful test recording was made on a sheet of tin foil placed on a glass plate and rotated by hand. Prior to Thomas Edison's cylinder phonograph, other inventors attempted sound recording devices, with Edison being the first to design a system that could both record and reproduce sound.

Edison established the Phonograph Company to manufacture and sell this record player. However, the first cylinders were made of wax and they were not very durable.

In 1878, John Kruesi, an engineer at Edison's company, came up with a way to make the record player cylinder out of metal. This made them much more durable and they could be mass-produced. The Phonograph Company was sold in 1929 to General Electric.

The phonautograph of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville and the paleophone of Charles Cros were among the phonograph's forerunners. Phonautograph recordings were meant to be visual representations of sound, but they were never musically recreated until 2008.

Cros' paleophone was meant to record and recreate sound, but at the time of Edison's successful presentation of the phonograph in 1877, it had not progressed beyond a fundamental notion.

Although English physicist, Thomas Young, made direct tracings of the vibrations of sound-producing objects such as tuning forks in 1807, the phonautograph, patented in 1857 by French typesetter and inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, is the first known device for recording airborne speech, music, and other sounds.

Sound waves vibrated a parchment diaphragm connected to a bristle in this apparatus and the bristle etched a line through a thin layer of soot on a sheet of paper wrapped around a revolving cylinder. The sound vibrations were captured in the traced line as undulations or other abnormalities.

Scott's phonautograph was created only for the purpose of seeing and analyzing the tracings. The initial phonautograph proved incapable of sound reproduction, particularly of the human voice.

Working Of Phonograph

The first phonograph achieved sound reproduction by using a diaphragm to vibrate and create sound waves. These sound waves would then be etched onto a rotating cylinder with speed variations, which could be played back to recreate the original sound. The phonograph could do audio recording thanks to its ability to reproduce sound with fidelity.

The first phonographs only had the ability to play back one song because they were limited by their recording medium. These early machines used cylinders that could only hold a few minutes of music before needing replacement or being cleaned off for reuse if desired.

A turntable, also known as a record player, is a device that plays back sound recordings stored on vinyl records. The turntable is driven by a motor, which spins the platter on which the records are placed.

A pickup cartridge, usually fitted with a stylus, is used to read the audio information on the record and convert it into an electrical signal. This signal is then amplified and played through a loudspeaker.

Many people think of turntables as antiquated devices that are no longer used in the era of digital music, but they are still popular among audiophiles and vinyl collectors. There are several reasons why people enjoy listening to music on turntables, including the warmer sound quality of a vinyl.

Edison being the first to design a system


The phonograph was first developed in the late 1800s and became very popular in the early 1900s. It was a groundbreaking invention that helped shape music and made entertainment more accessible to people around the world.

Inventors took great interest in phonographs in the early 1900s as they were interested in sound reproduction at this time. Even though the popularity of phonographs was short-lived, people came to understand that success is possible even with a simple invention.

Other Fun Facts

Vinyl records were originally made out of shellac, which is a material that is derived from the secretions of the lac beetle. However, this type of record was eventually replaced by vinyl records, which are made out of plastic. Vinyl records are more durable and can be played back on a wider range of devices than shellac records.

The first commercially produced records were wax cylinders that contained music from popular Broadway shows, with the ability to only play back one song because they were limited by their recording medium.


How much did a phonograph cost in 1877?

A: A phonograph cost $75 in 1877. This was a lot of money at the time, but it was worth it because the phonograph could play music.

Why is the phonograph important?

A: The phonograph was the first device to play recorded sound and it was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The phonograph is important because it was the first device to play recorded sound and it laid the foundation for modern audio technology.

Why was the phonograph invented for kids?

A: The phonograph was invented for kids because it allowed them to listen to music and stories without having to be in the same room as the person who was performing them. This was a big deal at the time, as entertainment options were limited and most people had to rely on live performances.

How did the phonograph record sound?

A: The phonograph used a stylus to etch sound waves onto a rotating metal cylinder. The sound waves would cause the air to vibrate, which would then cause the stylus to vibrate. These vibrations would etch lines onto the metal cylinder, which would later play back the sound when rotated.

What was the first phonograph?

A: The first phonograph was developed by Thomas Edison in 1877. It was called the 'tinfoil phonograph'.

It was a very simple device that consisted of a metal cylinder with a recording groove on it and a stylus that tracked the groove. When the cylinder was turned, the stylus would vibrate, causing the sound waves to be reproduced as they were originally recorded.

How did the phonograph change the world?

A: The invention of such a device means people were no longer reliant upon live performers to play their songs. This not only brought so much convenience but it also made entertainment more accessible than ever before for people around the world.

What day was the phonograph invented?

A: The phonograph was invented on November 21, 1877.

What other inventions did the phonograph lead to?

A: The phonograph led to a variety of other inventions, including the electric microphone, loudspeaker, and radio. It also helped shape the music industry as we know it today and made entertainment more accessible than ever before for people around the world.

What are the advantages of a phonograph?

A: The phonograph has a number of advantages that make it an important invention. Firstly, it is a very durable and reliable device.

It can be played over and over again without damaging the recordings. In addition, the sound quality is excellent, making it a popular choice for listening to music. They are very easy to use, making them popular among both adults and children.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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