Designing the First Phonograph Research Paper
record player, which was known in its original inception as a phonograph. This instrument was originally created in 1877 by Thomas Alva Edison 1. This fact is extremely important because it indicates that the record player was invented at the end of the Industrial Revolution 2 and prior to modernity, which began in earnest during the 20th century. The historical context of the record player is important in terms of its design, which primarily reflected functionality. The record player is the first invention that could ever record information outside of conventional writing. Its principal importance is that it signaled the shift in which society stopped collecting physical objects as much as it began collecting information, which influenced its design and its evolution to this very day.
The initial design of the very first phonograph was extremely pragmatic in nature. To truly understand the way it was designed it is necessary to realize that these instruments were used both to record audio information as well as to replay them 3. In contemporary times, most record players still in existence are used merely to reproduce sound. The aforementioned dual functionality was important because at first, this device was used for research and professional use — such as for doctors to record their thoughts about patients 4. The design of this initial device, then, was relatively simple. One end of it contained a cylindrical shape that was essential for playing back the sound 5. It was likely shaped this way to resemble an ear and the sort of reverse funneling process that the sound required for both recording and playing it back. The other end of the record player contained a handle which was required for turning the part of the mechanism that would play the record — a small disk that would record sound in tiny grooves on it. The middle of the device was either elongated or square, and contained the equipment for recording sounds 6. Instead of a disk Edison used a piece of tin foil on his initial record player, which still could both record grooves and play them back. The tin foil was shaped around a cylinder. Playing back those grooves required the usage of a stylus which could fit into the grooves and transmit the sound that they produced. The cylinder would turn when it was cranked by the handle at the end 7.
Edison’s initial phonograph was much longer than the subsequent phonograms and gramophones that came after it. Whereas those have become box shaped and contain a rotating disc in the center into which people place pieces of vinyl mainly for the purposes of playing sounds (oftentimes music), Edison’s first creation was long and narrow. It took up a good portion of a desk or of a table for work purposes. Except for some of the aforementioned pieces, this equipment mostly consisted of metal. It was a little imposing to look at, particularly compared to the boxy, circular rotations of modern record players.
There are a number of different ways that Edison’s invention reflected the society which helped to produce it. Again, he created this device at the conclusion of the Industrial Revolution and prior to the modernity associated with the 20th century. As such, many of the conveniences that were associated with the modern era are not found in this machine. It is not necessarily compact or aesthetically pleasing. As is the case with most of the inventions that were unveiled during the Industrial Revolution, Edison’s initial phonograph was strictly practical. Therefore, its design was somewhat cumbersome and well aligned with the dual purposes of both recording and playing back audio.
Moreover, it was indicative of its society and the time in which it existed in another important way. Modernity,…