The Phonograph and Happy Homes



Phonograph advertisements that illustrated scenes of the happy family gathered around the phonograph with every member enthralled by whatever it was playing was a great advertising image. Age was not a factor. Promoted for its variety and unlimited entertainment there was something for everyone. As a family entertainer it "is the favorite of all home folks, big and little" and "is surely needed--with its promise of many happy musical years to come."

"Everybody likes it -- from baby to grandmother."

"Fortunate are the homes" where the phonograph and its "gift of beautiful music" has entered the home.


"Every night a concert in your own home Every evening at home a pleasant one..."

Mailing Card example, April 1903, The Edison Phonograph Monthly



Everybody's Magazine, December 1905





"Home Sweet Home," 1907





"No end of pleasure for all the family!"

1907 Newspaper ad, The Commoner (courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE)



"Fun For Everybody." "Don't you want your home to ring with the merry laughter of old and young?"

1907 Newspaper ad, The Commoner (courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE) *Disclaimer









The Graphophone Makes Merriment All the Year Round. Ainslee's Magazine, November 1898



"A Joy at Home." The Saturday Evening Post, November 21, 1903 (1/12 page ad)




"Entertains the Whole Family," Omaha Bee Newspaper, April 16, 1905




"Everybody enjoys it--from baby up." Munsey's Magazine 1902






The Victor Talking Machine's promotional brochure "The Victor for Every Day in the Week" starts by addressing Mothers on the importance of instilling a love of wholesome entertainment in every child: "Good music has been proven to accomplish that goal and making "Home the dearest and best place on earth to boys and girls," and the Victor "next to Mother Love" will do more towards accomplishing this than any other thing." The Victor for Every Day In the Week, c.1906





The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1906 with an Edison ad promoting what Edison was using in periodicals for June 1906.





The Cosmopolitan, 1907




"The voice by the fireside" - "You listen and forget it's the Victor" 1906




"The Secret of the Happy Home - A Columbia Graphophone," Munsey's Magazine, 1906

"Before buying either a talking machine or records, insist on hearing the Columbia, and be convinced, like the Music Master, that they are the best."





"There is nothing so good for the family as laughing...The Edison Phonograph is able to furnish good, hearty, wholesome fun." 1906, The Red Book




"Home Sweet Home," Munsey's Magazine, 1906





At the Summer Home, 1906




Columbia Record Catalogue, January 1907


The child that is absolutely happy..."every mother...should have an Edison Phonograph." Colliers, 1908



The child that is absolutely happy..."every mother...should have an Edison Phonograph." Colliers, May 1908





"Everybody's Happy", The Saturday Evening Post, 1911




Not "another gift will bring so much pleasure to every member of the family." c.1911




Christmas Wish for every boy and every girl. Edison ad, 1911





"Home Sweet Home," Good Housekeeping Magazine, December 1912





Elegance and the comfort of home - Columbia 1914







The Victrola "will bring the greatest pleasure to every member of your family."

The Theatre Magazine, October 1914






"For the youngsters' frolic, for the entertainment of your friends, for the dancing hours..." Cosmopolitan, March 1915




In quality and "in infinite variety -- the Columbia may truly be termed an exponent of what is best and most representative in the musical lore and literature of every age." Munsey's 1915



"The gift for all the family." The Theatre Magazine, December, 1914


No other gift "will bring so much pleasure to every member of the family." The Theatre Magazine, December, 1914

The Theatre Magazine, March, 1915



This 1916 sheet music, At Home With My Pathe Pathéphone, was essentially an advertisement for Pathé and for the happy home, "it's home, sweet home for mine" made possible by a phonograph. (Sheet music courtesy of The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University).

"They talk about the pleasures of the picture show, But it's home for mine, They rave about their clubs and such, of course, they're fine, But home is where I shine."

"Take it in the ev'ning when the day is done, That's the time that I can have a little fun. A playing on my Pathé Pathéphone, My Pathé phone --- oh, catch that tone."


"All the Music of All the World" -- into your home today. Columbia Graphophone, 1916




Music is essential to the home.

Thomas A. Edison Dealer Book, 1917




The Columbia Grafonola's gift of beautiful music "brings a new and different pleasure to every member of the family"

The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1918




"The mirror of music" for the whole family, 1916




Every member of the family will enjoy it. "For no one is too young or too old to appreciate the Stewart Phonograph." 1916




The Need for Music, The Talking Machine World, February 1918




Alter and brighten your whole life because it brings to you the music of the world's greatest artists to cheer, refine, educate and uplift, circa 1916 Victrola




"A Perfect Musical Instrument" The Talking Machine World, 1919




Keep Your Home Cheerful, The Talking Machine World Supplement, February 1919





"Gives New Beauty to Record Music"

Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1919






"Give your family a Columbia Grafonola with Columbia Records for Christmas." Music right at your fireside. Pictorial Review, December 1920




"Fortunate are the children in homes made musical by the Columbia Grafonola." Columbia 1920




1920 Victrola




Sears Silvertone Phonograph advertising postcard, circa 1920





Victrola ad, 1920





Columbia Record Brochure July 1921





"Victrola homes are happiest," 1922





"Victrola homes are happiest," 1922





"Music Unites the Family," Glass Advertising Magic Lantern Slide, Pathé circa 1922 (Collection of Phonographia)

"Beautiful songs knit hearts together and make the home happier."





Magnavox Radio is as important to radio as the phonograph is to music."

The Talking Machine World, October 1922





ca. 1899 - What will you do in the long, cold dark, shivery evenings? - The Phonograph

1922 - What will you do during the Long Winter Evenings? - A Radio

Crosley Radio, The Talking Machine World, November 1922



"Just a Song at Twilight" - Eagle Radio, 1925




"The 'Super-Het' brings home the fun!" - Radiola, Scientific American, January 1925




Radiola for Christmas, 1926





The Orthophonic Victrola saved the day! The Ladies' Home Journal, 1926






"In the Evening...this congenial companion which gives so much and asks so little" The Ladies' Home Journal, 1926




"Whenever you wish, for the instruction of your children, or the entertainment of friends, the world's artists are on hand to please you!" General Electric Radio-Phonograph



"put on the records, settle back, and the permanent treasures of the world's music are at your command." General Electric, 1941




"thousands of music lovers thank the Magnavox -- the Magnavox and its capacity for capturing all the poignant delicacy of Chopin's immortal gift," 1945


"This superb instrument is one of the better things in life you can give your family." Magnavox 1946



1951 Zenith High Fidelity Demonstration Record





The Magic of Music in the Home, RCA Victor, 1950


Television - Another dimension to Home Theatre


Recorded sound brought music and assorted audio entertainment to the home. As has been seen in the early advertisements showing the home as the stage of the world, the "unlimited entertainment" that the phonograph offered relied on visualization of the performers even though the message was that the entertainment was the same as if you went to the opera or the theatre or other live performance that could be captured on a record.

Radio was one step closer to the live performance as it could bring a live performance of the Opera through the air in real time. But this still required visualization of the live performance.

After the phonograph was invented there were futurists describing the 'complete" theatre for the home in the not too distant future. Descriptions relied on combinations of what they already understood such as the phonograph, telephone and in the 1890's the addition of moving pictures. Descriptions like a "seeing telephone" and an 'Electric vision apparatus" or the combination of the kinetoscope, phonograph and telephone were components of how that future home theatre might be delivered to the home.

As to the social and cultural impact, advertisers were of course convinced about the positive benefits of home entertainment. Besides the convenience and comfort and cost savings of not having to attend live performances there were also the arguments that being at home was itself beneficial for the family, like keeping a man home at night.



"Make home a competitor of downtown, the club, the café, the theatre and the concert hall."

The Edison Phonograph Monthly, February 1907



S.C. Gilfillan, in 1912 said this about "The Future Home Theatre":

"The home theater, in contrast to most modern developements, will tend powerfully to preserve the home, as the newspaper has by superseding the Athenian barbershop, the Roman forum and the Queen Anne coffee house. And to those who live in small towns and the country the home theater will be a minister of life." p. 891

The Independent, October 17, 1912




"There's a revolution taking place in American family life."1948 DuMont Television Ad





There is great happiness in the home where the family is held together by this new common bond - television.

Dumont Television ad, 1950





TV Happiness Shared by the Family, Motorola's combination TV, AM/FM radio and 3 speed phonograph, 1951

Motorola's "Golden Voice" tone that's as rich and true as the original sound itself.