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Edison Describes First Discovery of Phonograph

Edison’s invention of the phonograph was the result of a process of pure reasoning.  After stating the mental process through which he went to satisfy himself that he could record and reproduce human speech and other sounds, Edison related the following account of those days in which the phonograph was created and successfully used for the first time:

"I designed a little machine, using a cylinder provided with grooves around the surface.  Over this was to be placed tinfoil, which easily received and recorded the movements of the diaphragm.  A sketch was made, and the piece-work price, $18.00, was marked on the sketch.  The workman who got the sketch was John Kruesi.  I did not have much faith that it would work, expecting I might possibly hear a word or so that would give hope for the future of the idea.  Kruesi, when he had nearly finished it, asked what it was for.  I told him I was going to record talking and then have the machine talk back.  He thought it was absurd.  After it was finished the foil was put on.  I then shouted ‘Mary had a little lamb, etc.’ I adjusted the reproducer and the machine reproduced it perfectly.  I was never so taken back in my life.  Everybody was astonished.  I was always afraid of things that work the first time.  Long experience proved that there were drawbacks found generally before they could be got commercial.  But here was something there was no doubt of."

Sources: Edwin Rice, 1925, Schenectady Museum Archive Historical File 16-22.

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