On this day. 142 years ago


Michael Gonzalez, Contributing Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— On Nov. 21, 1877, the music and recording industry started a partnership that continues to this day. The invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison had been announced to the public. This was Edison’s first major invention.

The Phonograph consisted of a stylus and a tinfoil cylinder. Edison was experimenting on finding a way to record telephone communication. On his attempt, he accidentally invented the first ever phonograph.

The purpose of the phonograph was to provide prerecorded music to people in the comfort of their own home.

Dennis Stouse, professor of communication, says the phonograph provided an easy way for families to entertain themselves.

“Prior to the introduction of the phonograph as a home music device, families provided musical entertainment themselves,” says Stouse. “The mothers and daughters of middle-class families learned to play the piano and sing to entertain others. Many middle-class homes had a piano in the parlor.”

Today, the original phonograph is not used. There was competition found in another recording style, known as the disc recording style. It was found cheaper than the cylinder style of the phonograph. As a result of this, the cylinder style of phonograph has become useless in today’s society.

In this day and age, we barley use the old style of disc phonograph, now popularly known as vinyl. Vinyls have become outdated by the massive amounts of digital music that is available for consumers. Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have made vinyl obsolete.

However, some avid music listeners still treasure the old platform.

Andrew Hamm, marketing and managing major shares his vinyl enthusiasm.

“It’s really nice to have a tangible collection of music,” Hamm says. “Having a vinyl gives the listener this experience of placing the needle into the vinyl, allowing the listener to interact with the music itself.”

The phonograph may be past its prime, but due to passionate listeners of vinyl like Hamm, the phonograph may have a new burst of popularity underway.

“Artists that are popular today are releasing their albums in vinyl too because of a large amount of music consumers shifting into buying record players,” Hamm says.

Unlike the Compact Disc, or CD, the vinyl is bigger in size and allows the consumer to have an interaction that not any other platform of music can provide. Even though the first phonograph was cylindrical, the disk shaped one still carries the same function.

Jack White, producer and musician for the band, The White Stripes is a strong proponent for vinyl sells.

“Vinyl is the real deal,” White says. “I’ve always felt like, until you buy the vinyl record, you don’t really own the album.”

Celebrities are reaching out to their fans and advising them to buy vinyl and make the switch.

Before the phonograph was invented, music had to be performed live. Sheet music was mass-produced for it to be recited. The phonograph changed the lifestyle at the time and started a brand-new industry in recording.

Allie McSwain, president of Dolphinium Records, Jacksonville University’s music label, respects the function of the phonograph.

“If it wasn’t for the phonograph, I wouldn’t have a major to study here in college,” McSwain says. “The music recording industry wouldn’t even be a thing.”