A phonograph is a device used to record and reproduce sound. The first phonograph was created by Thomas Edison in 1877, and the design was later improved by Alexander Graham Bell. In the first phonographs (also called gramophones) sound vibrations were engraved onto wax cylinders as grooves on the surface of the cylinder. Then the cylinder would be rotated, and a needle moved through the groves. The grooves caused the needle to vibrate, and the needle vibrations were amplified back into sound. By the second decade of the 1900s the wax cylinders had been replaced by discs or records, and the phonographs began to be referred to as “record players” and later “turntables”. By the 1980s the use of records and record players declined as a result of the introduction of cassettes and compact disks, and later digital music, but they are still used in niche markets and valued by collectors.
In the video below, you can see a Victrola wind-up phonograph in operation. This phonograph is housed in the North Lee County Historical Society Museum in Fort Madison, Iowa. This brand of phonograph was made by the Victor Talking Machine Company, which in 1929 became RCA Victor. The Victrola features the famous logo of a dog listening to a phonograph with the caption “His Master’s Voice”.