John Kruesi

The Man Who Built the First Phonograph

(May 15, 1843 February 22, 1899)


Doug Boilesen, 2024

John Kruesi was born on May 15, 1843 in Switzerland. He came to the United States in "1870 and went to work for the Singer Sewing Machine Company at Elizabethport. In June, 1872, while Edison was making Gold and Stock Exchange telegraph instruments in a Newark shop, Kruesi joined him and was one of the first of his workmen to be transferred from commercial to experimental work when Edison got money enough to open a shop for the development of his ideas in 1875. (The Phonoscope, February 1899).

As a machinist and close associate of Edison, John Kruesi was assigned the work of building Edison's first phonograph. The entry on December 6, 1877 in Charles Batchelor's diary is "Kruesi finished the phonograph." (1)

Kruesi finishing the phonograph meant that Edison could test which Edison proceeded to do. That testing was completed on December 6 and Edison made the decision that same day that his Phonograph was "finished" and ready to talk to the world. On the next day, December 7, 1877 Edison took his new phonograph to the office of Scientific American where the precocious phonograph would introduce itself.


The Phonoscope, February 1899


The following is the basic sketch that John Kruesi used to construct the first tin-foil model." (9)


First sketch of the Phonograph - November 29, 1877 (Edison Cylinder Records, 1889 - 1912 With an Illustrated History of the Phonograph, Allen Koenigsberg,1987, p. xiv).