Three Rival Phonographs

Edison phonograph 1877
from Edison NHS
Tainter graphophone 1885
from NMAH Acoustic Devices
Berliner gramophone 1888
from NMAH Acoustic devices
Edison's first phonograph of 1877 recorded sound by "indenting" or making up-and-down impressions in a groove cut into a thin surface of tin foil on a metal cylinder 4 inches long, 100 grooves per inch, powered by a hand crank at a speed of about 70 rpm. Tainter & Bell's graphophone of 1885 recorded sound by "incising" or making a vertical "hill-and-dale" cut in a thin surface of beeswax on a cardboard tube 6 inches long and 1-5/16 inches wide, 160 grooves per inch, powered by a hand crank at a speed of about 80 rpm, after 1887 by a foot treadle at 120 rpm. Berliner's gramophone of 1888 recorded sound by "undulation" or making a wavy side-to-side lateral cut in a thin wax surface that was etched by acid on one side of a flat zinc disc about 7 inches in diameter and used to press hard rubber copies, powered by a hand crank at a speed of about 30 rpm for the May 16 demonstration at the Franklin Institute, increased later to 60 rpm.

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