Phonograph Cylinder - Thursday, September 24, 2015

The American Treasure Tour is your one stop attraction for all types of music.  We have sheet music, paper rolls, 8-tracks, records - you name it, we've got it.  And we're going to tell you a little something something about many of them.  We know you want to hear about the musicians who released songs on them, and we' ll talk about them soon, but first, let's talk about the individual formats.  Today, we start at the beginning.  The phonograph cylinder.  The first device to ever preserve the human voice for re-listening.  Prior to this thing, there was no way to hear reproduced sound anywhere.

Thomas Edison was one of the world's greatest and most successful tinkerers.  He would develop a new technology and, if it tickled his fancy, he would pursue it.  If it didn't, it kinda got pushed to the side and either completely abandoned, or picked up again later by him, his people, or the competition.  He first patented his phonograph in the year 1877.  At this time, he recorded sound on thin, flimsy sheets of tin foil wrapped around a hand-cranked, grooved metal cylinder.  It was cool, but nothing more than a plaything with no real applicable use.  He lost interest and moved on to such innovations as practical electricity and light bulbs shortly after developing it.  

Meanwhile, Alexander Graham Bell and cohorts at the Volta Laboratory caught wind of what he did, and started experimenting with wax as a form of recording device to capture - and preserve - sound.  They introduced the "Graphophone" in 1887.  It worked, and caught Edison's attention.  So he got back in the game, perfected the advances Volta had made, and signed a patent-sharing agreement with them to improve the technology together.  By 1889, they were selling hard-wax cylinders with music permanently etched into the groves for people to listen to, usually at nickelodeons and other entertainment sites.  They held about two minutes' worth of music, and were a phenomenon of the era.  

By 1900, an early form of hard plastic was developed called celluloid that improved upon the wax cylinders.  They proved more durable than anything before them, and many forms of sound preservation after them, but they could only preserve up to four minutes' worth of music.  They remained the most popular method for music reproduction until the early 19-teens.  But 1901 saw the introduction of a new type of musical storage device.  Tune in tomorrow, same blog time, same blog channel, to learn more....
QUESTION:  Which of the following men contested Alexander Graham Bell's right to patent the telephone?
A)  Thomas Edison
B)  Elisha Gray
C)  Cyrus Field
D)  Guglielmo Marcone
ANSWER BELOW

IT'S A HONDA.  Okay, yes.  Honda is a Japanese company but, as the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles since 1959, and also the largest producer of internal combustion engines out there, they merit acknowledgement here at the American Treasure Tour.  They were formed on this day in 1948 by Soichiro Honda in a Japan still recovering from the devastation from World War II, who began his automotive career tuning other people's cars and racing them in competitions.  He went independent and created one of the world's largest producers of vehicles.  Kudos to Honda for following his passion!

QUOTE:  The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred. - Soichiro Honda

ANSWER:  B)  Elisha Gray.  Edison patented many inventions after the development of the phone to improve it.  Cyrus Field is responsible for laying the first telegraph wire from Newfoundland to Ireland, and Marcone is the man behind wireless radio (although some argue that Nikolai Tesla deserves that credit).