Thanks for the music, Mr Edison


WAY before CDs, iPods, and digital music there was the phonograph.

On this day in 1878, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

Edison created many inventions, but his favorite was the phonograph. While working on improvements to the telegraph and the telephone, Edison figured out a way to record sound on tinfoil-coated cylinders. In 1877, he created a machine with two needles: one for recording and one for playback.

Recalling his astonishment when his tin-foil phonograph first played back his voice recording of Mary Had A Little Lamb, Edison said: “I was always afraid of things that worked the first time. Long experience proved that there were great drawbacks found generally before they could be got commercial; but here was something there was no doubt of..

“Which do I consider my greatest invention? … I like the phonograph best … because I love music. And then it has brought so much joy into millions of homes all over this country, and, indeed, all over the world. ”

The ability of a machine to capture the human voice was an astonishing thing to people of the time. The real significance of the early phonograph was that it transformed the way people listened to music. Where once music was a unique, live performance, experienced in a public place with a group, now it was heard privately in the home and it was possible to hear the same “performance” over and over.

On the 50th anniversary of his invention, Edison recorded again the nursery rhyme on his original phonograph. Hear it here

5 thoughts on “Thanks for the music, Mr Edison

  1. In school the teachers thought he would amount to nothing and thought he had mental issues. His mother taught him at home and because of his inquisitive mind set up the house for this. He even read, as a child, marxists books and philosophy. He read the bible and other works. He proved the teachers wrong and the love of a mother carried him through.


    • The power of a mother.

      Then, after Thomas Edison told his mother that his teacher had referred to him as addled, the two of them went to the school in search of an apology, according to his biography:

      “My son is not backward!” declared Mrs. Edison, adding, “and I believe I ought to know. I taught children once myself!” Despite her efforts, neither the Reverend nor Mr.s Engle would change their opinion of young Tom Edison. But Mrs. Edison was equally strong in her opinion. Finally, she realized what she had to do.

      “All right, Mr.s Edison said, “I am herby taking my son out of your school.” Tom could hardly believe his ears! “I’ll instruct him at home myself,” he heard her say.

      Tom looked up at his mother, this wonderful woman who believed in him. He promised himself that he would make his mother proud of him.

      Later in life, Edison said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me: and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”


      • As an educator I try to see the potential in each child. Some are more difficult than others. One boy in school has been problem for years. As a specialist ICT educator I was able to teach him in a subject he loved. I was able to connect also with humour. I now teach him in a class most days and he is working well and behaving, mostly. He has not been the issue he has been. Why? Because I can see his potential. I am discovering he is highly intelligent and was most likely bored out of his brain in the past. He knows I see him and he sees me just like Edison. Recently I completed a Mathematics assessment. There are 8 students who were able to achieve close to 100% on their level test. I struck out a whole unit of work for them and placed them on work involving design and problem solving. They love it. Often teachers are afraid they must “cover” the curriculum. They thus hide the abilities of the children. At the end of the unit these students all achieved 100% on their level post test. No boredom, extension and their abilities shone through. Mums (most anyway) can see their child instantly and their potential. If only as Christians we can see in all people the hidden potential.


      • My grandson is one of these. His Dad removed him from primary school because the system couldn’t cope with him. Fault of the system, not the teachers. Neither was the Dad competent to home educate him, so he just stayed at home for 6 months, until he was admitted to a program for secondary students who weren’t adapting to school. There he gained a thirst for learning.

        When funding ceased for the pilot that allowed primary students to participate, he was returned to the State system, determined to fit in and learn. Again he couldn’t, and Dad removed him again until he was old enough to qualify for the previous secondary school program.

        He isn’t an Einstein, but has finished secondary school with much commendation from teachers, regarding his maturity and general knowledge, and is now enrolled in tertiary studies.

        A child’s psychological well-being is more important than academic achievement, and can maybe lead there anyway – as in Einstein’s case.


    • “A child’s psychological well-being is more important than academic achievement”

      100% true. Its all about relationship too. Put those things first and the academics takes care of itself usually. Put academics first and then the student suffers.


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