How It Works

The birth of the phonograph

How does the phonograph work?

The phonograph, the genesis of the record player, was invented and developed by Thomas Edison in the late nineteenth century. But how did Edison devise a way to accurately reproduce sound?
Read on to find out…

Edison and his phonograph
Edison and his phonograph

Edison used a cylinder wrapped in tinfoil that a sharp needle could strike when turned by a crank. Then, he placed a mechanical diaphragm to capture and magnify the sound. As he spoke the sound waves put pressure onto onto the needle which vibrated magnifying the sound. The needle would then create different patterns of sound depending on the power of the voice.

After Edison had finished speaking, he stopped the needle and put it back to where it began. When the needle restarted the original spoken message was mimicked.

As technology increased, the cylinder was replaced by records which had many grooves to make different vibrations and sounds. The first ever song played was on this day was English composer Arthur Sullivan’s The Lost Chord .

From here on out the age of recording sound could begin.

If you want to know more on how a phonograph works, check out this video!