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  • Writer's pictureSteve Elford

Historic Interest – The Cylinder Record

At Winters Audio we are always talking about 'the latest', 'the new' and 'the superseded'. But if it wasn't for the old stuff, we wouldn't have anything new. So we thought, from time to time, why not look back at some of the important history.


The cylinder record, an early form of commercial audio recording, has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century. In 1877, Thomas Edison, an American inventor, introduced the phonograph, a groundbreaking device capable of recording and reproducing sound. Edison's invention utilised cylindrical, wax-coated cylinders as the recording medium, marking the birth of the cylinder record.



Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the cylinder record gained popularity as a medium for preserving and distributing music and spoken word recordings. These early cylinder records were typically produced in limited quantities and played on phonograph machines, which were manually operated and required hand-cranking to produce sound.

The cylinder record reached the peak of its popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, serving as the dominant format for commercial audio recordings before being overshadowed by the emergence of the flat disc phonograph record, pioneered by Emile Berliner.


Despite its eventual decline in the face of competition from newer recording technologies, the cylinder record holds historical significance as a pioneering medium that paved the way for modern audio recording and playback. Its role in preserving the early sounds of music, spoken word, and historical speeches has solidified its place in the annals of recording technology, reflecting the ingenuity and innovation of its time.



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