SIGNALS – Museum of Information Explosion

Recorded Sound

Opening Fall 2024

Strange to think there was a time where you could only hear something once! Explore the ways we can capture and replay sounds thanks to the major invention of the Phonograph. This exhibit features cylinder players, disc players, and jukeboxes. Take a journey back in time and listen to vintage musical recordings, speeches, and sermons.

Audio Capture and Distribution

(~1870- )

Around the early 1870’s, innovators across the world began experimenting with capturing sound through recordings using a variety of mediums. If successful, they understood that voices, music, political speeches and religious sermons and more could be stored for replay again and again. There was a tremendous desire to learn about what was going on in the world, and to capture significant moments in history such as the coronation of a queen, or political debates. Early recordings were successful using tin-foil cylinders, and were progressively improved upon using different media and then to the flat LP record format with which many people today are familiar. Recorded sound could eventually be duplicated and sold and distributed globally for people to consume at their leisure. Because of the Industrial Revolution, the workforce which had previously enjoyed very little free time, began to experience more opportunity for entertainment and communion around the phonograph. Business opportunities also mushroomed around the new technology. Court reporters and lawyers could record legal activities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sound recordings could be captured and copied for mass distribution.
  • Significant historical events, speeches, sermons, music and singing began to fill homes and social spaces.
  • Yet again, new business opportunities arose for those who manufactured and distributed the phonographs and recordings, creative methods for steadily decreasing the costs, and an entire revolution in recorded music.




Summer 2024