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About Phonographia

Since I was a little boy I've been fascinated by the phonograph.

My paper-route made it possible to buy my first Victrola when I was twelve. Auctions were an early source for acquiring talking machines and my father and I would sometimes spend hours waiting to bid on a phonograph with a morning-glory horn. We weren't very sophisticated buyers and my funds were limited so I unfortunately didn't pursue rare machines. But it was always fun and there was alot of serendipity in our collecting.

Through the years my interest in talking machines has taken some turns, from phonographs (the pre-1920 machines and records) to toy phonographs to talking toys that used internal 'records' to talk and finally to less space demanding phonograph ephemera (postcards, advertisements, lithographs, etc.).

Cultural questions related to the phonograph and how it was marketed to the home have always been of particular interest to me. But in truth anything connected with the phonograph seems to catch my attention: talking machines, stories about the phonograph, artwork that includes phonographs, phonograph advertisments and all sorts of phono ephemera are all footprints that I willingly follow including down all the associated rabbit holes.

I chose Phonographia (think phonograph memorabilia) as this site's domain because it's meant to include any memory or connection with the phonograph.

The Phonograph engraved and replicated its legacy in records but it also literally was a revolution of sound with records revolving at different rpms and with captured sound reproduced by a variety of talking machines.

Phonographia became my internet site in 2001 and it continues to be a work-in-progress.

I use images and information from many sources and sometimes it may look like a scrap-book of eccentric connections and memorabilia. But I hope the information is always accurate and that in its own way it is part of the "prismatic recollection of history". (1)





A corner of my collection c.1966 in my parents basement (Photo courtesy of Doug Keister)





History and Story Telling:

How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History On Technology


Last year, two scientists presented a theory in quantum mechanics that they called “entangled histories.” They argue that the existence of a particle in space is fractured along many alternate timelines, all of which must be considered to understand the full chronology of its life cycle. It is baffling and exhilarating in the way only quantum physics can be, but one idea stood out as particularly resonant. Jordan Cotler, an author of the paper and a graduate student at Stanford Univer­sity, has said, “Our best description of the past is not a fixed chronology but multiple chronologies that are intertwined with each other.” We’ve long known that this is how human history works — an unimaginable number of small stories, compressed into one big one. But maybe now we finally have the ability to record and capture them all, and history can become something else entirely: not a handful of voices, but a cacophony.

(1) Using the internet and arhives of social media to "generate a more prismatic recollection of history."