Listen to Edison Sound Recordings
Follow the genre links (below) to hear the MP3s:
Thomas Edison made his first sound recordings on sheets of tinfoil at Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1877. At West Orange, New Jersey in 1888, he developed a solid wax cylinder record. During 1896-1897, Edison organized the National Phonograph Company and began mass-producing cylinder recordings of music and entertainment. Edison merged the National Phonograph Company with several of his other companies in 1911 to form Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated. The following year, Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated introduced the Edison Diamond Disc record. Record production continued until 1929, when Edison left the entertainment phonograph business due to declining sales.
We have compiled a selection of Edison recordings from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park archive in MP3 format, arranged (below) by genre. The content of the recordings is mostly music, covering many different genres popular in the United States during Edison's era. Spoken word recordings include vaudeville comedy sketches, documentary speeches, educational lessons, and motion picture soundtracks. Experimental recordings document research carried out at the Edison Laboratory to develop recorded sound technology.
Links to recordings:
Did You Know?
Clarence Madison Dally an employee of Thomas Edison at his West Orange research labs volunteered to work on the newly discovered x-rays. Using a fluoroscope, made of a fluoride gas filled light and two pieces of cardboard to focus the x-rays, Dally would expose himself to high concentrations of radiation eventually leading to radiation poisoning. After Dally’s death when Edison was asked about x-rays he would respond with “Don’t ask me about x-rays. I am afraid of them.”