Segments in this Video

Young Thomas Edison (02:50)


Thomas Edison was born in 1847. From his father he gained a restless mind and zest for life. He started experimenting early but had little interest in school. He began writing and printing his own newspaper at age 12.

Edison's Early Inventions (02:18)

While other men went west Edison went to Boston, which was a key innovation center of America. He spent his days working on ideas for inventions and his nights working as a telegrapher. He filed his first patent for an electronic vote recorder.

Menlo Park (03:45)

The first Edison invention that really paid off was the stock printer that would revolutionize Wall Street. He used the money he received to build a laboratory, but soon married and relocated. He and his team set to work on several projects in 1876.

Idea to Invention (03:53)

Edison knew that he would not be the first to record sound. Even with help, work on the phonograph began very slowly. Scientific American announced Edison's "talking machine" before the design was finalized.

Wizard of Menlo Park (02:32)

Edison's tin foil phonograph is mechanically simple and its operation is quite easy to understand. He took a new demonstration model to Washington to show members of Congress and the patents committee. He lost interest in the machine.

Graphophone (02:09)

After Edison lost interest in the phonograph Alexander Graham Bell tried to to improve the machine. The key change was using wax covered cardboard instead of tin foil.

Napoleon of Invention (04:10)

Thomas Edison decided to reclaim the phonograph in 1886, but he was too involved with other matters to give it personal attention. He had decided to leave Menlo Park and had recently remarried. He took over after giving the responsibility to Gilliland.

Phonograph Mass Production (02:25)

Edison thought his phonograph would mainly be used as a dictating machine in offices, but his first big order was for "talking" dolls. By 1890 the phonograph found a home in concert halls and arcades.

Early Music Industry (02:13)

The phonograph created thousands of new jobs and gave birth to the music recording industry. Without mass production performers had to sing the same tune over and over.

Gramophones Record Machines (03:11)

Motion pictures were the latest novelty in the mid 1890s. Edison was too busy making equipment and movies to pay attention to the phonograph. Edison was spurred to action by revolutionary changes in the graphophone.

Golden Age of the Phonograph (04:24)

At the beginning of the 20th century Edison was in control of selling and producing his phonographs and records. Thanks to long years of research by his team, he was able to mass produce records. The Victor Victrola was wildly popular.

Post War America (01:44)

After WWI jazz records began to cross the color line and the phonograph started to bridge black and white America. In 1920 radio became a consumer product and broadcast stations popped up all over the country. Edison resisted radio.

First Edison Radio (03:13)

While Charles Edison attempted to successfully run his father's company, the famous inventor led a public life of leisure. The struggle between the two intensified when electronic recording was invented.

Edison's Legacy (04:01)

Record sales rose with the popularity of jukeboxes. In 1948 the Columbia company introduced the long playing record. After 100 years of continual improvement on Edison's phonograph, the digital compact disc appeared.

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Modern Marvels: Phonograph

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Thomas Edison was not the first to record sound, but his competition with Alexander Graham Bell and other inventors led to the phonograph that created thousands of new jobs and gave birth to the music recording industry. First radio and then electronic recording contributed to the eventual decline in the phonograph's popularity. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 44 minutes

Item#: BVL42884

Copyright date: ©1996

Closed Captioned

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