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Discovering our collection: The Cylinder Dictating Machine

Period: From October to December 2000

Le Dictaphone à cylindreIn 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, the world’s first apparatus for the recording and reproduction of sound. To make a recording, the user had to speak into a horn with a small diaphragm at the other end. The resulting sound waves caused variations in air pressure that, in turn caused the diaphragm to oscillate. A stylus attached to the diaphragm was used to engrave these sound vibrations onto a sheet of tin attached to a rotating cylinder. To listen to the recording, the user would place the stylus in the newly created groove and turn the cylinder once more. As the stylus ran through the peaks and valleys of the groove, the diaphragm would reproduce the vibrations created at the recording, thus recreating the original sound. This process of converting sound waves to a more or less permanent physical form, which subsequently can be reproduced, is the basis of all sound recording equipment.

In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, the world’s first apparatus for the recording and reproduction of sound. To make a recording, the user had to speak into a horn with a small diaphragm at the other end. The resulting sound waves caused variations in air pressure that, in turn caused the diaphragm to oscillate. A stylus attached to the diaphragm was used to engrave these sound vibrations onto a sheet of tin attached to a rotating cylinder. To listen to the recording, the user would place the stylus in the newly created groove and turn the cylinder once more. As the stylus ran through the peaks and valleys of the groove, the diaphragm would reproduce the vibrations created at the recording, thus recreating the original sound. This process of converting sound waves to a more or less permanent physical form, which subsequently can be reproduced, is the basis of all sound recording equipment.