Early Music Recording & Edison Wax Cylinders

The first cylinder sound recording machine was developed by Thomas Edison in 1877. This invention etched the sound wave patterns from a mouthpiece onto tinfoil wrapped around a 4 inch cylinder. However this medium, while able to successfully record low quality sound, was extremely fragile and it failed to find a substantial commercial market.

It was not until 1885 that a talking machine called the ‘graphophone‘ was able to successfully play and record onto cylinders which were robust enough to be commercially viable. This machine utilised a wax coated cylinder rather than tin foil and accounts for the reason recorded cylinders from this point on were commonly referred to as ‘wax cylinders’, although many are not made from wax at all.

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