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Talking Machine

sound, invention, time, stylus, experiments, tin-foil and cylinder

TALKING MACHINE. The wonderful, though natural, growth in popularity of the talking machine has caused its manufacture and sale in the few years that have passed since its perfection to become a truly great industry. Its utility for entertainment purposes in the home no doubt aids in the absorption of most of the instruments constructed in the compet ing factories, but the use of talking machines in commercial life (dictaphone perhaps in par ticular), greatly aids the numerical demand and it is found a valuable aid in teaching foreign languages. History mentions talking machines as early as the 13th century, when Albertus Magnus, the philosopher and scholar, is said to have produced a mechanism that reproduced the human voice. A queen of Sweden is said to have had a head which talked automatically in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and French. The Reverend John Wesley writes in his journal at date 26 April 1762, that he saw an invention at Lurgan, Ireland, of startling capabilities. It was an automaton of an old man in a case over against a clock . . . Every time the clock struck he opened the door with oue hand, drew back the curtain with the other, turned his head, . . . then said with a dear, loud articulate voice, 'Past one, two, three' and so on." The invention was contrived by a man named Miller. But so many visitors called from foreign parts to see this wonder, and no one offered to purchase it, that it took up his time so much he nearly failed in business and he (took the whole machine to pieces?' This Miller told the preacher later he had made very successful experiments and could make a man who could talk and sing hymns, but he was too busy on other work. In 1783 Abbe Mical presented to the French Academy of Sciences an invention that talked, but he later broke it up, having religious scruples.

In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison brought out his first talking machine. The contrivance was of the simplest, being merely a steel point fixed to the centre of a flexible disc and a revolving cylinder behind the point. It was first dis played in Paris. The' invention was enclosed in a little box about a foot square and die rec ord was made on a piece of tin-foil. As a wonderfully clever toy sold at small expense it created great admiration. In 1888 Edison con

structed his phonograph with its diaphragm having the lateral movement instead of the cyl inder and the sheet of tin-foil was discarded in favor of a cylinder of wax, the vibrations being recorded with a tiny chisel. Edison is said to have gained his incipient conception of a tallcing machine while working with auto matic telegraphs operating at high speeds. He 'made some experiments with embossed strips impressed with dashes and dots thereon which were moved rapidly beneath a stylus to vibrate it. He observed the stylus made audible sounds while vibrating, and as the great inven tor never passed by mechanical facts, however trivial they might appear to the ordinary in vestigator, he became interested in this curious sound phenomenon. He was about this time working on telephone experiments and the idea of a new sound developer occurred to him as a possibility. The conception of developing a talking machine soon grew in his mind and. under his expert hands he soon had his first talking machine—getting his first patent 19 Feb. 1878, No. 200,521, with its tin-foil records.

The graphophone was an outcome of much experimentation by laboratory experts and at its inception the sewing machine was becoming a highly popular home machine. Therefore the manufacturers at first used the sewing machine stand (frame, treadle and table top) in their first output, as motive power which was manufactured in the East Bridgeport vacated building of the Home Sewing Machine Com pany. It met with poor success and the spring motor was invented which made it portable and sales grew rapidly. Next the cylinder form of record was discarded for the disc form of record. The listener had been using a pair of tubes for the ears these gave way to the horn for the dissemination of the sound leaving the cars naked and the sound audible at a distance. Later again the ungainly horn and all the mechanism was enclosed in a box or a cabinet.

Emil Berliner invented the gramophone aparatus in 1892 with a smoked disc and stylus to prodtrce sound vibrations. See GRAMOPHONE, GRAPHOPHONE, PHONOGRAPH, etc.