|Postcard of Thomas Edison with an early phonograph, ca. 1888.|
Today marks the anniversary of Edison's introduction of the wax cylinder phonograph in London in 1888. At a press conference there, Edison played a recording of Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord," presumably on a machine very much like the one Edison is seen with in the postcard above (if not, in fact, that very machine).
A few months later, Sullivan -- infatuated with the possibilities of the new device -- made an "audio postcard" to send back to Edison in the United States. Luckily, both the original recording of Sullivan's piece (perhaps the oldest extant musical audio recording) and his message to Edison survive:
And if you want to hear a version of "The Lost Chord" in higher fidelity, here it is:
Lastly, notice that in the postcard version of Edison and the phonograph, the background has disappeared. This is the original image:
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