Phonograph and Its Future
at Westminster Public Library, Westminster, CO, September 2018
In April 1878 Edison wrote an
article titled "The
Phonograph and its Future" to identify "probabilities"
for its future. Edison included the following among his list of
what he called the more important probabilities:
Books recorded so that
they may be heard instead of read
Educational - as an elocutionary
teacher or as a primary teacher for children
Music - "As a musical
teacher" or with a voice like Adelina Patti's singing in all its
Family Record - by preserving
the voices of family the "phonograph will unquestionable outrank
Speech and other Utterances
"of our Washingtons, our Lincolns, our Gladstones, etc." and have
them speak to us "in every town and hamlet in the country on our
Toys - A doll which may
speak, sing, cry, or laugh, may be safely promised our children
for the Chistmas holidays ensuring. Every species of animal or
mechanical toy -- such as locomotives, etc. -- may be supplied
with their natural and characteristic sounds.
In this exhibit some examples
of these Edison probabilities that became realities are displayed:
children's phonographs from the last 115 years; talking books
and records with music; records for learning your ABC's; an Edison
cylinder to learn German; talking dolls; and Voyager's Golden
Record with its voices and music and sounds which is essentially
a "message in a bottle" and Greetings from Earth preserving
utterances and sounds from the families of Earth for all time
in deep space.
Advertisements and pop culture
characters are also displayed since they helped sell the phonograph
and establish its place in the home.
Golden Record and Cover
Almost one hundred years after
Edison invented his Phonograph a Golden Record was included
on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts. These records are 12-inch
gold-plated copper disks containing sounds and images selected
to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth - essentially
a "message in a bottle" and Greetings from Earth.
Remarkably, these phonograph
records could end up outliving humanity itself.
In 1929 Edison spoke on the
radio to the IEEE conference in San Francisco 3000 miles from
where Edison sat. In rejoicing at the wonderful advances that
had been made in the art of electrical communication Edison said
"You and I are very widely separated
physically by a great distance in miles, but time and space
have been annihilated for us and our minds meet and speech is
On February 4, 2008, for the first time ever,
NASA beamed a song directly into deep space using NASA's Deep
Aimed at Polaris, the North Star, located
431 light years away from Earth, the transmission of The Beatles'
Across the Universe commemorated the 40th anniversary of the day
it was recorded and the 50th anniversary of NASA's founding.
Track 3 "Across the Universe"
Since this exhibit was in a
library and since libraries for many years loaned records this
cartoon seemed perfect.
(Courtesy of Charles Schulz)
items in this exhibit are from the Phonographia Collection