By Doug Boilesen, 2011
The phonograph, a.k.a.
record player, is a survivor in the history of media. Various record
formats have been used as recording media throughout the twentieth-century.
And although challenged in the 1990's, vinyl records made a comeback.
(1) Vinyl record stores even
established a day to celebrate LPs with "Record Store Day"
becoming an annual international event in 2008.
Record players and
their 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records are currently alive, albeit a niche
market, but with devoted users. The Edison Phonograph and its wax
records, on the other hand, are on life-support being used by a
much smaller group of collectors and phonographians.
Edison wax cylinders
are still living because they have collectors and several sites
putting thousands of their records on-line. In addition, a few companies
are making cylinder records for these machines. Compare this with
other media that really have perished.
Although the Edison
cylinder machines and wax records are in museums this does not make
them dead media like the phenakistoscope and the teleharmonium
because the Edison Phonograph is part of a different cultural memory
bank. The early phonographs are iconic and have a protected niche
of collectors and Friends of the Phonograph that prevent
the writing of its final obituary.
Let's also give the
Edison Phonograph a tip of the hat by pointing out that not
only are Edison Phonographs still being played they are environmentally
QED: The Edison Phonograph
is an environmentally friendly entertainment medium that still has
In that spirit, and
with its continued use and pop culture connections, I believe Phonographians
can proclaim the Edison Phonograph to be alive and "Green."