Inscribing Sound

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Thomas Edison was the first to demonstrate the phonograph in public, when he took his prototype to the New York City offices of the Scientific American magazine in 1877. In keeping with the important public uses of shorthand for court and legislative reports, the phonograph would also provide a cultural repository, a library for sounds. The Edison Speaking Phonograph Company functioned by granting regional demonstration rights to exhibitors; individuals purchased the right to exhibit a phonograph within a protected territory. While the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company was getting on its feet, several of Edison’s friends and associates held public exhibitions that paired demonstrations of the telephone with the phonograph and raised the expectations of company insiders. Lecturers introduced Edison’s machine as an important scientific discovery by giving an explanation of how the phonograph worked and then enacting this explanation with demonstrations of recording and playback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCommunication in History
Subtitle of host publicationStone Age Symbols to Social Media, Eighth Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781003823278
ISBN (Print)9781032168296
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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