Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Right to the Source

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Right to the Source

Article excerpt

Don't Be Like Muddy Jim

American inventor Emile Berliner (1851-1929) was known for his work with the transmission and recording of the human voice. He achieved early success by creating a microphone that Alexander Graham Bell used when he invented the telephone. This landed Berliner a job with American Bell Telephone. Berliner also created acoustic tile to improve the sound quality in theaters and performance halls. He is best known, however, as the inventor of the Gramophone--the first flat-disc record player--and for the creation of disc records that eventually overtook wax cylinders in popularity.

The early 20th century, when Berliner achieved his professional successes, was a time of great transformation. The industrial revolution had brought change and prosperity to cities. The promise of wealth and success lured rural people and foreign immigrants to urban centers seeking jobs and better lives. Instead, most found overcrowded conditions, inadequate food and water, and long hours of labor for low pay. Many lived in slums and tenement houses rife with disease.

A reform movement was started to improve living conditions for the working poor. Though fascinated with recorded sound, Berliner was also interested in promoting public health--especially among children. In 1919, Berliner and some associates wrote and published the book Muddy Jim and Other Rhymes. It featured 12 "Health Jingles" by Berliner, illustrated with color drawings by J. …

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