Thursday, December 20, 2007

I wanna be a cylinder jockey!

"Simmons! Come here and pull my cylinder!"
Edison in a rare moment of joviality June, 1877

Wayyyyy back before Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, CDs, LPs, 45s and even 78RPM records, people used to buy music (and the occasional speech) on phonograph cylinders.

The original cylinders mass marketed in the 1880s were made of wax and were sold and stored in cardboard tubes to at least partially protect the product. Different formulations using harder and more durable types of wax appeared over the next two decades until in 1906 the Indestructible Record Company began mass marketing cylinder records made of celluloid, an early hard plastic, that would not break if dropped and could be played thousands of times without wearing out.

An interesting history of the phonograph cylinder from its invention by Thomas Edison in 1877 to its final days (Dictaphone finally ended production in 1947).

The cylinder might be down, but it's not totally out. You can email a sound file or send a CD to Poppy Records, and for a mere £15, they will make your own custom wax cylinder!

A whole passel 'o' Christmas MP3s on wax cylinder 1900's-1930's.

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