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Re: [ARSCLIST] Earliest recorded sound update on NPR
In a message dated 6/4/2009 10:48:39 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
Edison did try to tell the "keyboard telephone" version of the story in an
interview of April 1878 (quoted on p. 28), so he wasn't treating this as a
deep, dark secret. But the various lines of thought that converged in
July 1877 were complicated and might have been hard for Edison himself to
recount clearly. In the long run, he settled on a couple good anecdotes that
were also part of the story, and that he probably found more gratifying to
Thanks, Patrick. Was this excerpt below listed as Sourcenote 73 in your
article (p. 28)?
"Not only did each letter make "a different mark or scratch," but so,
unfortunately, did repetitions of the same letter, as he acknowledged during an
interview in the spring of 1878:
"How long ago did you get the idea of the phonograph ?"
"Only last July. It is a mechanical invention, begotten out of an attempt
to emboss an alphabet for telegraphy [i.e., the keyboard telephone
project]. I found that repeating the letter A' many times produced an ever varying
puncture, all of unlike depth or size under the microscope. Then it was
plain that the voice was its own recorder and measurer. The phonographic
alphabet was impossible, but articulation was easy.'73"
Was this meant perhaps as Sourcenote 74? The ultimate reference seems to
be for the April 1878 story.
Edison's reply above - "only last July " - seems to support the
July 18 date for when all the preceding activities came to fruition. I would
guess that this is when he (or Batchelor) comes up with the sliding
'Halloo' phonograph (which has not survived, but is pictured in SA, Aug 24, 1878.
Whatever was said, and hopefully repeated, had to be very short.
If the "idea of the phonograph" is taken to mean the "phonograph
principle", aren't we still stuck with the traditional date (July 18)? As you point
out, the ground was well laid (with the abortive attempts involving
letters), but the Eureka moment (where it all coalesced) was well expressed, in
real time, by TAE himself (7/18). i.e. "Just tried experiment with a
diaphragm having an embossing point & held against parafin paper moving
rapidly..." This is no doubt a reference to the 'Halloo' device, don't you agree?