Recording Factolas

Recorded Sound - The Evolution of a Revolution


Recorded sound has a long and richly connected timeline.

This gallery, however, is not intended to be a comprehensive timeline of the evolution of the phonograph and recorded sound. Instead, it's more a reminder that it was and continues to be an 'Evolution of a Revolution."

I have therefore selected a few examples of the phonograph's evolution beginning with one of my favorites: it's a hand-colored illustration from Harper's Weekly, March 30, 1878 and a great piece of ephemera announcing to its readers that there is now a machine that can capture sound and play it back.


"The Phonograph" Harper's Weekly's March 30, 1878 (courtesy of


This Harper's Weekly full page engraving features what phonograph collector's call the "Brady" phonograph, so named because it was the tinfoil phonograph which Edison was seated next to in his photograph taken at the studios of Matthew Brady in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 1878.


Uriah Painter, Charles Batchelor and Thomas Alva Edison, April 18, 1878




The introduction of the coin-in-the-slot phonograph was an important step in the phonograph becoming a music and entertainment machine. Commercial success of these early jukeboxes would lead to making and marketing phonographs specifically for the home in the 1890's.


The first nickel-in-the-slot phonograph was installed November 23, 1889, by Louis Glass inside the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.

In 1946 a nickel was still all you needed to enjoy music from a phonograph.




Zez Confrey and His Orchestra recorded "Nickel in the Slot" on June 22, 1923 for Victor Records. (1)

LISTEN (courtesy of Internet Archive)



In 1922 the Strand Phonograph Company advertised in the phonograph trade magazine The Talking Machine World how Talking Machines had undergone an evolution of changes and style in the last 25 years and that their Strand Consoles were part of the unmistakable trend defining the Modern style of today.

The Talking Machine World, April 1922



The phonograph and other home entertainment devices connected with reproducing sound would continue to be introduced, evolve and disappear as state-of-the-art devices of one era would move to the attic, to museums or to the dump.

The New Yorker cover by Perry Barlow with the an earlier model of the TV joining the radio and the Victrola, October 22, 1955



The Attic - Home for Relics from an Ancient Lost Civilization

Courtesy Greg Evans, March 9, 1997




Pop music 45 rpms and songs from long-playing records (LPs) like the Beatles's library of recordings found homes in places like Spotify, iTunes and a host of other streaming services and digital processing sources.

Factola: In 2015, for the first time, streaming became the largest component of industry revenues, just slightly higher than digital downloads.




See The New York Times article The Soundtrack to Your Life, With a Stream of Discoveries for reviews and discussion of some 2012 streaming apps for radio.



Despite the prominence of streaming, recorded sound is still listened to on phonographs in the twenty-first century with over 18 million LPs sold in the US in 2019.

And as seen in the following 2016 Holiday Catalogue for Pottery Barn, vinyl records played on record players also have a pretty good selling point if that are able to "turn back time."

Crosley 2016




In 2021 the record console is advertised by Wrensilva® as reimagined.


Wrensilva® M1 January 2021



The Phonograph is alive.

The revolution of the phonograph is still turning.

And one particular phonograph record, i.e., the Voyager's Golden Record, may exist longer than humans on earth -- which continues to be a mind-bending addition to the history of recorded sound and to the definition of Long-Playing record (LP).








Listening tubes and the Edison Phonograph, Bettmann/Corbis c. 1890




Apple iPod 2015