A phonograph, or record player, is a machine that plays prerecorded audio from a wax cylinder or vinyl disk, onto which sound waves have been imprinted. The phonograph spins the record while a stylus attached to a stationary arm “reads” and amplifies the sound. Originally, the phonograph was one of several different types of record players, including the graphophone, gramophone, and Victrola, though today, it may be used as an umbrella term for any device that plays records. The phonograph helped shape both home entertainment and mass mediated culture throughout much of the 20th century and was a major catalyst for today’s multibillion-dollar recording industry.

In 1877, Thomas Alva Edison and Charles Cros each proposed a device for recording and playing sound; although Cros publicly ...

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