Too Long; Didn't ReadThe phonograph—The recorder—The reproducer—The gramophone—The making of records—Cylinder records—Gramophone records.
IN the Patent Office Museum at South Kensington is a curious little piece of machinery—a metal cylinder mounted on a long axle, which has at one end a screw thread chased along it. The screw end rotates in a socket with a thread of equal pitch cut in it. To the other end is attached a handle. On an upright near the cylinder is mounted a sort of drum. The membrane of the drum carries a needle, which, when the membrane is agitated by the air-waves set up by human speech, digs into a sheet of tinfoil wrapped round the cylinder, pressing it into a helical groove turned on the cylinder from end to end. This construction is the first phonograph ever made. Thomas Edison, the "wizard of the West," devised it in 1876; and from this rude parent have descended the beautiful machines which record and reproduce human speech and musical sounds with startling accuracy.
We do not propose to trace here the development of the talking-machine; nor will it be necessary to describe in detail its mechanism, which is probably well known to most readers, or could be mastered in a very short time on personal examination. We will content ourselves with saying that the wax cylinder of the phonograph, or the ebonite disc of the gramophone, is generally rotated by clockwork concealed in the body of the machine. The speed of rotation has to be very carefully governed, in order that the record may revolve under the reproducing point at a uniform speed. The principle of the governor commonly used appears in Fig. 146. The last pinion of the clockwork train is mounted on a shaft carrying two triangular plates, a and c, to which are attached three short lengths of flat steel spring with a heavy ball attached to the centre of each. a is fixed; c moves up the shaft as the balls fly out, and pulls with it the disc d, which rubs against the pad p (on the end of a spring) and sets up sufficient friction to slow the clockwork. The limit rate is regulated by screw s.