Sunday, March 7, 2021

Edison Gold Moulded Records - Very Early Record Players

 Here's a question that almost nobody seems to wonder about it except me.  What came first, the first voice recording or the first telephone call?

The first call - at least as far as most history books go - was by Thomas Edison in 1876 who summoned his assistant with the famous line: "Watson, come here, I need you.".  The first recording seems to have been in the decades before in France but it might not count since the recording was not intended to be played back. It was intended by the inventor to be traced and looked at, a little like a photograph of the voice.

If we only focus on Edison, he made his first phone call a year before he first recorded and played back his first sounds.  

A decade later, Edison launched his business selling his recording and playback devices.

In 1902,  the Edison Gold Moulded system went on a sale and 2015 I bought myself one along with some of the wax cylinders. It is sadly not in working condition.  

Introducing my Edison Gold Moulded Record Machine. It basically has a cyclinder with the recording on it which spins, a needle that follows a groove. The needle connects to a sort of diagram which it vibrates which is amplified by the connected metal tube which progressively expands like the end of a trumpet. Incredibly simple.


Edison Gold Moulded Records
Edison Phonograph Cylinders

I started reading about it on the University of California website. Here's a little info:

The "Gold-Moulded" process, developed in 1902, significantly ameliorated these limitations (ed: uneven quality, limited number of quality copies etc). The process involved creating a metal mould from a wax master; a brown wax blank could then be put inside the resulting mould and subjected to a preestablished and precisely calibrated level of heat. As the blank expanded, the grooves would be pressed into the blank, and after cooling, the newly moulded cylinder could be removed from the mould. The "gold" from its namesake is derived from the trace levels of the metal that were applied as a conductive agent in creating the initial mould from the wax master. With Edison Gold-Moulded cylinders, playback speed was standardized at 160 revolutions per minute (RPM). The number of grooves on gold-moulded cylinders remained the same as for brown wax cylinders, at 100 TPI, or threads per inch.

Want to see: