Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

VIII
THE Edison PHONOGRAPH

THE first patent that was ever granted on a device for permanently recording the human voice and other sounds, and for reproducing the same audibly at any future time, was United States Patent No. 200,251, issued to Thomas A. Edison on February 19, 1878, the application having been filed December 24, 1877. It is worthy of note that no references whatever were cited against the application while under examination in the Patent Office. This invention, therefore, marked the very beginning of an entirely new art, which, with the new industries attendant upon its development, has since grown to occupy a position of worldwide reputation.

That the invention was of a truly fundamental character is also evident from the fact that although all "talkingmachines" of to-day differ very widely in refinement from the first crude but successful phonograph of Edison, their performance is absolutely dependent upon the employment of the principles stated by him in his Patent No. 200,251. Quoting from the specification attached to this patent, we find that Edison said:

"The invention consists in arranging a plate, diaphragm, or other flexible body capable of being vibrated by the human voice or other sounds, in conjunction with a material capable of registering the movements of such vibrating body by embossing or indenting or altering such material, in such a manner that such register marks will be sufficient to cause a second vibrating plate or body to be set in motion by them, and thus reproduce the motions of the first vibrating body."

It will be at once obvious that these words describe perfectly the basic principle of every modern phonograph or

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