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Edison Phonographs: 1906

Edison Phonographs: 1906

1906. "Twenty-Eighth Street, Newport News, Virginia." The go-to place for gadgets like gramophones and "Kodaks." 5x7 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.


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Vertical recording

The patent history of the phonograph is quite interesting, and there were lots of crazy twists and turns, of which today's patent madness is an echo. While it is true that Edison's cylinder and disk phonographs did use "up-and-down" (also known as "vertical cut" or "hill-and-dale") recording, that was not exclusive to Edison. Essentailly all cylinder players used vertical recording (For example, Columbia was a major competitor of Edison's). There were also some disk manufacturers that used vertical cut records, notably Pathe. (They were never particularly popular in the U.S., however.)


Here's a nice video of a Pathe disk player, showing the oddity that the grooves start on the inside and run outwards

Stereo LPs actually vibrate their grooves *both* ways, which is how they can get two channels in one groove.

Mad Men

The advertisers, long reposing on the non-green side of grass, would be gratified to know that the words Refreshing Coca-Cola (my mind supplied the missing parts) At Soda Fountains, Also In Bottles, made the roof of my mouth ache for the cold burn of that first icy swallow. The words Old Homestead Bakery put the final nail in my coffin. Now I want a Coke *and* a cookie.

"Special work"

Rail suppliers could furnish castings for switches and frogs (the casting used where one rail intersects another) for ANY track configuration. Here we see an unusual arrangement where trackage goes from single track to double track on a curve of about 40 foot radius!

Edison Phonographs

Edison's phonographs worked with the needles picking up "up and down" vibrations from the grooves, and kept that patented method to his own company; Victrolas and other early record players picked up "side-to-side" vibrations in the grooves, a non-proprietary method, which wound up becoming much more common, and is still the method used in vinyl records today. Edison lost out in that particular intellectual property war.
Great picture!

103+ years later

This appears to be the same intersection -- 28th street and Washington Avenue today, looking towards the bridge going over railroad tracks. It's mostly parking lots. Retail has moved elsewhere.

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