Tin-foil phonograph, known as the demonstration phonograph

Thomas Edison1878

Musée des arts et métiers

Musée des arts et métiers
Paris, France

The French public first saw Edison's phonograph at the 1878 Universal Exhibition. The operator wrapped tin foil around a cylinder, cranking it while shouting into a mouthpiece containing the same kind of membrane used in Alexander Graham Bell's telephone. The sound's vibrations moved a steel needle that etched grooves into the foil. The now-recorded voice was amplified and played back by means of a megaphone placed on the mouthpiece. "It is impossible to realize what an amazing impression the little voice crackling out of the instrument made without hearing it; you are doubtful until the last second, and when the distinct, though weak, sounds reach the ear, you feel astonished and satisfied […]," wrote a journalist in La Nature in 1878.


  • Title: Tin-foil phonograph, known as the demonstration phonograph
  • Creator: Thomas Alva Edison, E. Hardy
  • Date: 1878
  • Date Created: 1878
  • Location: United States of America
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Subject Keywords: Enregistrement / Reproduction du son
  • Type: Bois, étain, acier, fonte, laiton
  • Contributor: Author : Marie-Sophie Corcy
  • Inventory number: Inv. 08920
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/photo Sylvain Pelly

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