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Dead medium: Miniature Recording Phonograph, Neophone Records, Poulsen's Telegraphone, the Multiplex Grand Graphophone and the Photophone.
From: (Dan Howland)
Source(s): "The Wonder of the Age, Mr. Edison's New Talking Phonograph," a boxed set of two 12" LP records with separate sheet of notes, Argo, ZPR-122-3, (P) 1970, Great Britain

(((Transcribed by Dan Howland. My comments appear in triple parens)))

Pirate tactics

(side 2, band 2)

(Original source: Peter Dawson, "Fifty Years of Song", Hutchinson & Co Ltd)

"In order to get popular songs recorded by artists who possessed recording voices, it was necessary to carry out a fair amount of pirate tactics. Songs had to be taken down in some way or other as they were being sung, either at a music hall or theater. A miniature recording phonograph was taken into the theater or hall to record the melody. A stenographer took down the words verbatim. It was sometimes necessary to make three or four visits before a satisfactory result was obtained. From these records and the stenographer's notes an orchestration was made, and an artist selected to make the record."

(((This "miniature recording phonograph" must have been small enough to be hidden on the pirate's person. How small were the cylinders and the horn? Did they fit, say, in a top hat? Note that these live bootleg recordings were not released, but were used to re-create the performance by someone other than the original artist. It was difficult enough to make a decent recording under the ideal conditions of a recording studio, let alone on remote.)))

Neophone records

(side 2, band 9)

(Original source: Joe Batten, "Joe Batten's Book", Barrie & Rockliffe Ltd)

"Neophone records were made of papier-mache, and were advertised as 'Warranted Indestructible'. To prove this, Dr. McKaylis (sic?), the inventor of the Neophone Indestructible Record, would assemble a group of potential buyers at the top of a four floor building, then standing at the corner of Worship Street and the City Road, and demonstrate by throwing a record out of the open window into the street below. A boy then dashed down the stairs and retrieved the record. This was then played, and as it emitted its normal noises, this was clear evidence that it was none the worse for its rough treatment. But, although customers did not buy records to drop on the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians, yet all might have gone well had not the records, when displayed in shop windows, curled up in the sun and assumed pathetic, surrealistic shapes."

(((Not only is it dead media, but it curled up and died.)))

Talking Tapes, the records of the future

(side 2, band 19)

"Will the talking machine record of the future be made on a tape? A number of inquirers are asking themselves and others that question now. In Poulsen's Telegraphone the sounds are recorded on and reproduced on a metal strip. Could a talking machine record be made in the same way?"

The Multiplex Grand Graphophone

(side 2, band 23)

"The Multiplex Grand Graphophone built for the Paris Exposition of 1900 monopolizes a large share of public attention. This is the largest talking machine ever constructed. The cylinder is of giant size, and there are three recordings on each cylinder. There are three horns which amplify the sound, which comes simultaneously from the three reproducers tracking 'round the same cylinder. The machine is constructed so that the music may be divided into parts; one horn playing bass or contralto, the second, tenor, and the third, a piano or orchestral accompaniment."

The Photophone

(side 4, band 15)

"Professor A. O. Rankin (sic?) foreshadows a new sort of gramophone which will be known as the Photophone. It is really an optical gramophone in which a beam of light is photographed onto moving film. The fluctuations of this beam of light give a record of sound, so that the film actually records the words or song transmitted, which can be produced at leisure by simply passing the film at the same speed between a source of light and a selenium cell connected up with a battery and a telephone receiver."

(((Some of this documentary LP set consists of period gramophone and phonograph recordings from the 1890's to the 1920's; the items transcribed here were read by actors when the documentary was made in 1970. Some of these items have specific citations in the liner notes, while others are listed under the following blanket explanation:)))

"The majority of the spoken items on this set of records have been taken from contemporary newspapers and journals, including 'Scientific American,' 'The Times,' 'Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.' 'Punch,' 'New York World,' 'The Talking Machine News,' 'The Phonogram,' 'The Sound Wave,' 'Musical Opinion,' 'The Daily Telegraph,' 'The Daily Mail,' 'The Standard' and 'The Phonorecord.'"

Dan Howland