: My oldest phonograph  ( 422 )

TC Chris

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My oldest phonograph
« : June 01, 2021, 08:32:06 PM »
My Mom is 98 and becoming impaired and at some point we'll be faced with emptying the house, so I've started retrieving stuff that's been stored there.  This weekend I brought back my Edison cylinder phonograph.  It looks just like this one:
https://www.min-on.org/cylinder-phonograph-edison-home-model-a/
and so it must be from about 1903. 

It was a gift many years ago from a local elderly hermit named Virgil. When I was a kid, he lived a few doors away in an ancient travel trailer where the family home had stood until it burned.  He was disabled ("tertiary syphilis") by youthful indulgence in wine, women, and song. But he would limp along the road with his three-legged Great Dane and make small talk with us kids.  He was a bit hard to understand because of the effects of his disability, but our mother had taught us to be kind to everybody and that included Virgil.  At Christmas time she'd deliver a box of canned good to him.  Virgil reciprocated our acceptance with little gifts.  An old airplane compass, a bronze boat hook end, and this Edison.  It had been stored in the leaky garage so the finish was ruined so I restored that and Mom found a horn for it at an antique store.  I've had it ever since.

We were kind to Virgil and he was kind to us and it taught me many lessons. Virgil acquired some posthumous distinction because I am telling this story.  I would certainly rather be remembered as the kind person who gave a gift than as the nasty bastard next door who yelled at kids.

I'll post a video of the Edison playing almost 120 years after production when I can get around to it. Pretty durable technology when it's still functioning that long afterward.  Along that line of durable tech, the remarkable spacecraft Voyager I carries an analog recording of earth sounds--music (Bach, Chuck Berry), greetings in 55 languages, etc., and  a cartridge to play it with instructions.  Voyager I was the first earthly object to leave the solar system to interstellar space, something that leaves  me speechless.  If you're not familiar, read about it here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1
This is a landmark in human curiosity, a remarkable achievement, and a magnificent gesture of goodwill to whatever other worlds may be out there.

Chris Campbell

Bill

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Re: My oldest phonograph
« #1 : June 02, 2021, 07:45:59 AM »
Thanks for sharing your Virgil story Chris.  I think we all had a Virgil in our life time, and some were the cranky old guy or gal that yelled at the kids.  But, back in our day, we were taught to respect our elders no matter what or we would be in trouble, so we did. 

I'm sorry to hear you need to clean out your stuff from Mom's, but also sorry to hear Mom is declining.  At 98 she has lived a good life, seen, heard, and did a lot of stuff.  She is a living history book and I find it fascinating to listen to the history lessons that they can share.  I wish you all the best with this next chapter in your life. 

Bill

TC Chris

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My oldest phonograph
« #2 : June 03, 2021, 10:12:38 PM »
I made a YouTube video of the Edison phono. It's a Model D, which apparently was made 1908-1911.  110 years later it's still making music. How many cell phones will still play back music in 110 years....

When posting it, a notice popped up that "Old Daddy Pegleg," the music played, is copyrighted. (!!!) The owner allows me to use the music but they get any ad revenues.  Oh darn, now I can't retire....

Here's the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-n4MC4u8aA&t=313s

Chris Campbell

Bill

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Re: My oldest phonograph
« #3 : June 04, 2021, 08:22:35 AM »
It is amazing that after 110 years it still works, but in the "Good Ole' Days" things were built to last even if they did not intend them too.  And yes, no cell phone or any other electronic devise today will last that long.  For the most part they will not even last 10 years before they are obsolete or broke.  Very sad!

Bill