Early Sound Recording - Dictating Machines
Cylinder dictating machines are commonly referred to as Dictaphones, but this name was just one of the brand names developed by the Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia was one of the bigger companies in the history of sound recording and with its absorption of the American Graphophone Company in 1906, it became a direct descendant of Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory Association. This acquisition also made them Thomas Edison's main rival in producing dictating machines.
Columbia trademarked the name Dictaphone in 1907 for a new range of cylinder recording machines for the office which it made until the company went bankrupt in 1923. From this point on, Dictaphone became its own company.
Thomas Edison's dictating machine was called an Ediphone and as early as 1916, his salesmen struggled with the public's uptake of the term "dictaphone" to describe these machines. When Thomas Edison dictated 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' onto his tinfoil machine in 1877, his was surprised at the ease of this discovery. Unfortunately, this was short lived as he engaged in ongoing competition with his contemporaries, particularly Alexander Graham Bell, in the patent office and the courtroom.
Although Edison felt his dictation technology would be used in the office, it ended up being far more popular as home entertainment device. Eventually the technology made a full circle, and in the 1940s and 1950s cylinder recording was mainly used in the office as a dictating machine.
Madeleine Donovan, Intern, October, 2009
V.K. Chew, Science Museum Talking Machines, Her Majesty's Stationary Office, London, 1981
David Morton, Off The Record, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey & London, 2000
Oliver Read and Walter Welch, From Tin Foil to Stereo, Howard Sams & Co., New York, 1959
Jonathan Sterne, The Audible Past, Duke University Pres, Durham & London, 2003
Object viewed times
Images on this site are reproduced for the purposes of research and study only. Whilst every effort has been made to trace the Copyright holders, we would be grateful for any information concerning
Copyright of the images and we will withdraw them immediately on Copyright holder's request.