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Selling Sounds (Prologue)

PROLOGUE

berliner_mirrors

Emile Berliner, undated photograph. Library of Congress, Digital photo ID berlp 12010316

Although Thomas Edison’s cylinder phonograph, invented in 1877, is generally seen as the start of modern sound recording, it was the disc gramophone, invented by Emile Berliner (right), that prefigured the modern music industry. In this recording from 1908, Berliner thanks the National Association of Talking Machine Jobbers for bestowing on him an honorary membership in their organization:

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(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Edison and Berliner both claimed a variety of useful applications for sound recording technology. Among these applications was the ability to record audio messages to one’s descendants. Here’s an unpublished message that Berliner recorded for his grandson Bobby Frank, in 1924:

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(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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