Friends of the Phonograph

Celebrating the Phonograph

 

Friends of the Phonograph have a common goal:

Remember the Phonograph!

 

Phonographia Red-Letter Days are one way to remember the Phonograph.

 

Six Red-Letter Days celebrated by Friends of the Phonograph

 

February 11

The birthday of Thomas Edison (February 11, 1847), inventor of the Phonograph, the first device to record and playback sound waves.

Friends of the Phonograph celebrate the Phonograph as the invention that began the personal and home entertainment revolution by capturing and playing back sound.

 

Suggested celebration: Apple pie and a glass of milk or cup of tea.

 

Thomas Edison, April 18, 1877, Washington, D.C., The Brady Studio

 

 

 

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March 25

Édouard-Léon Scott patented his Phonautograph on March 25, 1857. The phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound.

 

Suggested celebration: French macaron cookie with a glass of French wine.

 

Scott's Phonautograph, 1859 with barrel made of plaster of paris

 

 

 

Click on the Phonautograph to learn more about Scott's recording that was heard in 2008 for the first time by anyone.

 

 

 

 

April 9

The first line of Au clair de la lune, "the earliest clearly recognizable record of the human voice yet recovered, " was recorded by Édouard-Léon Scott on his Phonautograph on April 9, 1860.

 

Suggested celebration: Glass of French wine while viewing the moon and holding one lit candle.

 

See First Sounds for more details about this and other Scott Phonautograms.

 

Illustration from "Au Clair de la Lune", traditional French folk song, reprinted in a French children's book Vieilles Chansons pour les Petits Enfants: Avec Accompagnements by Widor, Charles Marie, 1844-1937 (book text), Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel,1855-1913 (illustration)- source Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

 

 

April 25

The birthday of Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (April 25, 1817) , a French printer and bookseller, invented the earliest known sound recording device, the phonautograph.

 

Suggested celebration: Birthday cake with a glass of French wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1

The birthday of Charles Cros (October 1, 1842, Fabrezan, France) is celebrated as the first person to conceive a method for reproducing recorded sound with an invention he named the Paleophone.

 

Suggested celebration: A glass of French wine with salted herring while viewing Mars and listening to "A Signal from Mars".

 

 

 

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December 6

The birthday of Edison's Phonograph (December 6, 1877), the first device to record and playback sound waves.

 

Suggested celebration: Sing "Happy Birthday to the Phonograph", enjoy birthday cake, and listen to Edison's recreated recording of his first words spoken into the Phonograph. "Mary had a Little Lamb."

 

 

Click on the sketch of the first Phonograph for birthday related information

 

 

 

 

Red Letter RPM Birthdays for Phonographians

The phonograph record has literally revolved at many speeds which have come and gone.

There are currently six "Red Letter RPM Birthdays".

These RMP birthdays do a "tip of the hat" to revolutions per minute (rpm) record speeds(1), as part of a Friend of the Phonograph's birthday celebration, aka a Phonographian's birthday: "16 2/3" , "33 1/3" . "45" , "78" , "80" . "90"

In other words, if you are a Phonographian and you have a birthday and your age is now one of these RPM speeds you need to "tip your hat" to that RPM and remember the phonograph as part of your birthday celebration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Phonographia sites that remember the Phonograph

 

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Memories of the Phonograph

A variety of recollections, short stories and memories of the Phonograph by Friends of the Phonograph.

 

 

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Axel and Betty Boilesen Legacy Collection

Enjoy viewing a small collection of phonographs in honor of Axel and Betty Boilesen.

Stories are also available that include their early memories of the phonograph and growing up in Nebraska in the 1920's and 30's.

 

 

 

 

Friends of Nipper

This site honors a unique star in the history of talking machines. Nipper, listening to his master's voice coming from a machine, epitomized what this new wonder was introducing to the world.

 

 

 

 

Edison the Man, starring Spencer Tracy,and Rita Johnson, 1940

Favorite Movies

Selecting favorite movies by Friends of the Phonograph is a round-about way to celebrate the connection between the phonograph and talking movies, beginning with W. K. L. Dickson's Kinetophonograph which syncronized film with sound using an Edison cylinder Phonograph.

Favorite movies selected by FOTP members don't have to include scenes with a phonograph (like the Phonograph's star role in the 1940 Spencer Tracy/Rita Johnson classic "Edison, the Man)".

FOTP members, however, are always on the look-out for phonograph-in-movie scenes, and that list is being developed as a separate project.

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"A" is for Album - Favorite LPs

A record album is a collection of music or sounds. Early records had only one song per record but they were often put in "albums" that had multiple pages. These early record albums resembled photograph albums but contained captured sounds instead of captured sights.

 

Beginning in the 1950's, a long-playing (LP) record had multiple songs on one record. Packaged inside an artistic cover these single LPs continued to be called albums since they were still a collection of music.

Selecting favorite phonograph LP albums is really just about making a list. It sounds straightforward enough, but some find this difficult, perhaps even philosophically against top 5 lists. I know that I've annoyed my family for years by asking them what their favorite movies are, or their favorite things we did on a vacation, etc.

Nevertheless, like one of the best top five list-makers (John Cusack who is a record store owner and lover of lists in the movie High-Fidelity), here are top-five album selections by some members of Friends of the Phonograph.

Top-five list maker John Cusack in Hi-Fidelity, courtesy Touchstone Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Record

In 1977, one-hundred years after the invention of the Phonograph, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched. On the outside of each was attached a gold plated copper phonograph record - a "kind of time-capsule" - protected by an aluminum cover. (2)

These phonograph records used a needle and "grooves" and were not laser discs although images were viewable on the discs. The record was analog technology and the audio was played at 16 2/3 rpm with the overall intent of communicating "a story of our world to extraterrestrials." (2)

For more information about this Voyager phonograph record sent to the stars, see Carl Sagan's "Murmurs of Earth" or NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory site's "What is the Golden Record?" (2)

 

 

 

 

GO GREEN

In addition to preserving a legacy, Friends of the Phonograph are also environmentally friendly.

Clearly a machine that one can simply wind up and play 100 years after it was made represents the best of consumer products: a zero carbon recycled footprint requiring no electricity, with no Edison Phonograph headed to the landfill.

When you see this bumper sticker on a Prius you know who must be driving:

SAVE ENERGY - WIND A PHONOGRAPH

 

Friends of the Phonograph also look for other ways to contribute to their community and protect the environment.

The Westminster Colorado chapter of Friends of the Phonograph have adopted the walking path and pond of one of the city's open spaces known as Mushroom Pond. Originally inspired by their dog loving Friends of Nipper (since the adopted trail is a popular place to walk your dog), the PhonoFriends keep this trail clean for people and man's best friend.

 

KEEP IT CLEAN - FRIENDS OF NIPPER

The Edison Phonograph - It's GREEN

Mushroom Pond - Westminster, Colorado

 

 

 

 

"On This Day" - Other noteworthy Phonographia Days:

February 6 - Eldridge Reeves Johnson (February 6, 1867 in Wilmington, Delaware founded the Victor Talking Machine Company alongside Emile Berliner, a United States corporation, and built it into the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time.

 

February 18 - Jesse Harrison Lippincott, born February 18, 1842 (Mt Pleasant, PA), founder of the North American Phonograph Company (July 14, 1888)

 

March 3 - Alexander Graham Bell, born March 3, 1847 Edinburgh, Scotland - scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone; Bell funded the Volta Laboratory in 1880 which became an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery, and the very next year it improved Edison's phonograph by substituting wax for tinfoil as the recording medium and incising the recording rather than indenting it, key upgrades that Edison himself later adopted. The laboratory was also the site where he and his associate invented his "proudest achievement", "the photophone", the "optical telephone" which presaged fibre optical telecommunications. - Wikipedia

 

March 12 - Leon Forrest Douglass (March 12, 1869 – September 7, 1940) was an American inventor and co-founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company who registered approximately fifty patents, mostly for film and sound recording techniques.

 

May 15 - John Kruesi, was a Swiss born machinist (May 15, 1843 – February 22, 1899) and a close associate of Thomas Edison. As Edison's head machinist at Menlo Park he took the rough drawing from Edison and constructed the first Phonograph. Kruesi was also involved in many other Edison inventions, including the quadruplex telegraph, the carbon microphone, the incandescent light bulb and the system of electric lighting.

 

May 20 - Emile Berliner (May 20, 1851 – August 3, 1929), originally Emil Berliner, was a German-American inventor. He is best known for inventing the phonograph record (called gramophone record in British English and originally also in American English) and the phonograph (gramophone in British English and originally also in American English). He founded the Berliner Gramophone Company in 1895, The Gramophone Company in London, England, in 1897, Deutsche Grammophon in Hanover, Germany, in 1898 and Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada in Montreal in 1899 (chartered in 1904). See Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry.

 

August 25 - Charles Sumner Tainter, born Aug. 25, 1854, Watertown Mass., U.S - American scientific instrument maker, engineer and inventor, best known for his collaborations with Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, Alexander's father-in-law Gardiner Hubbard, and for his significant improvements to Thomas Edison's phonograph, resulting in the Graphophone, one version of which was the first Dictaphone - Wikipedia

 

August 20 - Voyager 2 launched by NASA on August 20, 1977.

 

September 5 - Voyager 1 launched by NASA on September 5, 1977.

 

November 30 - The birthdate of Chichester Bell, cousin to Alexander Graham Bell, is unknown other than he was born in 1848. Chichester, Alexander Bell and Charles Tainter's successful development of the Graphophone led to the formation of the Volta Graphophone Company of Alexandria, Virginia in February 1886 by those three principals, along with Chichester's brother, lawyer and banker, Charles B. Bell.

Overall, Chichester is to be remembered for his important contributions in developing improved versions of the phonograph.

November 30 has been selected for Chichester Bell's "On This Day" in recognition of Bell helping to establish the Edison Bell company on 30 November 1892 in London to sell phonographs produced by the Edison United Phonograph Compnay.

 

 

 

If it isn't a Phonographia Day, it still can be celebrated!

Clearly Friends of the Phonograph look for any excuse to celebrate a day that has a connection with the Phonograph.

For those dates not identified here, the celebration of an Unbirthday is always an option.

 

1951 Walt Disney record that can be used to celebrate un-Phonographia birthdays.

 

 

 

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Friends of the Phonograph

 

 

 

Visit one of the following Phonographia sites for more Phonographia.

 

 

Note: Toys that have records or recordings in them are also Friends of the Phonograph who can be visited at the Talking Toy Hall of Fame gallery.

References

(1) - Although early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm, and Edison cylinders were 160 rpm, FOTP Red Letter RPM Birthdays are currently the following:

16 2/3 rpm (first used in early 1930's and subsequently used for 1) spoken word recordings, 2) car music systems like Chrysler's Hi-Way Hi-Fi 2 of the 1950's 3) background music systems for restaurants and businesses 4) limited music formats - see Canada Antique Phonograph Society (CAPS) May 2010 article by Mike Dicecco for history of 16 2/3 format);

33 1/3 rpm (first used by Vitaphone in 1930 for electrical transcription recordings and introduced in 1948 by Columbia Records as the Long-Playing Record (LP));

45 rpm (introduced by RCA in 1949);

78 rpm (the standard for early disc records from 1890s into the 1950's);

80 rpm (for Edison Diamond Disc records),

90 rpm (for Pathé disc records with vertically cut grooves requiring a special sapphire ball-shaped stylus).

(2) - Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology - http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

 

 

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