Phonograph Lives! - Voyager
of the Phonograph
By Doug Boilesen
The Phonograph Lives! - Voyager
1 and Voyager 2
revolution that began with the Phonograph is a continuum.
We still have record players and descendent
technologies that record and reproduce sound waves.
And most remarkably, launched one hundred
years after the invention of the phonograph, Voyager 1 and
Voyager 2 are travelling in interstellar space each carrying
a phonograph record that is Earth's "message
in the bottle" and "greetings from Earth" (3).
Voyager 1 launched on September
5, 1977 (100 years after the invention of the Phonograph) -
Mounting the Golden Record
The "Golden Record"
attached to the side of Voyager 1 (5)
The audio of the Voyager's
Golden Record is designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per
minute (this is the Golden Record's cover).
The following was provided by NASA/JPL on
their Voyager web page regarding the record cover's instructions
for extraterrestrial operation of the 'phonograph'.
The information in the upper right-hand
portion of the cover is designed to show how pictures are to
be constructed from the recorded signals. The top drawing shows
the typical signal that occurs at the start of a picture. The
picture is made from this signal, which traces the picture as
a series of vertical lines, similar to ordinary television (in
which the picture is a series of horizontal lines). Picture
lines 1, 2 and 3 are noted in binary numbers, and the duration
of one of the "picture lines," about 8 milliseconds, is noted.
The drawing immediately below shows how these lines are to be
drawn vertically, with staggered "interlace" to give the correct
picture rendition. Immediately below this is a drawing of an
entire picture raster, showing that there are 512 vertical lines
in a complete picture. Immediately below this is a replica of
the first picture on the record to permit the recipients to
verify that they are decoding the signals correctly. A circle
was used in this picture to ensure that the recipients use the
correct ratio of horizontal to vertical height in picture reconstruction.
Images, sounds and music on the Voyager's
"Golden Record" are intended to represent life on
planet Earth. However, as Carl Sagan noted, the record will
only be played "if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations
in interstellar space") (6).
Perhaps the "Golden Record"
will never be played. But there is still the mind-bending possibility
that the Voyager record will exist longer than humans on Earth.
Visit the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) website, read more about the
"Golden Record" and see real-time numbers of how far
these golden records have travelled.
Voyager 1's Pale Blue Dot
Earth as a small blue dot in a fuzzy beam of light.
Published: February 5,
Historical Date: February
The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth
taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7
billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the Sun. The image
inspired the title of scientist Carl Sagan's book, "Pale Blue
Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," in which he wrote:
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us."
NASA's Voyager 1's Pale Blue Dot for more information about
the 30th anniversary's new version of one of the most iconic
images taken by NASA's Voyager mission known as "the Pale Blue
For the definitive written story of the
Voyager Interstellar Record, a.k.a. the Golden Record, why it
was created, how the contents were selected and specifically
what is on the record, read Murmurs of Earth The Voyager
Interstellar Record by Carl Sagan, F.D. Drake, Ann Druyan,
Timothy Ferris, Jon Lomberg, and Linda Salzman Sagan, Ballantine
For an on-line story of The Golden Record,
see Voyager NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute
of Technology, The
The Voyager Golden Record has been released
as a 3 translucent gold 140 gram vinyl LPs boxed set by Ozma
Records. Also included is a full-color 96-page softcover
book containing all images included on the original Voyager
Interstellar Record, gallery of images transmitted back from
the Voyager probes, and a new essay by Timothy Ferris, producer
of the original golden record.
about the Phonograph Revolution in the 21st Century visit
Sound - A Changing Revolution