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Definition: wax recording


The first commercial medium for audio recording and playback used a wax cylinder. Similar to the phonograph record that later followed, sound waves were turned into mechanical vibrations that etched an analog signal in the wax. Commercialized in the late 1880s by Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, the wax-coated cardboard tubes could be reused. A variety of wax cylinder recordings before the turn of the 20th century have been transcribed to digital formats for posterity. See analog.




For Prerecorded Music
This Edison "Talking Machine" played the prerecorded cylinders of music, which became available starting in 1889. The sound was amplified by the horn. Initially used like a jukebox at entertainment venues, the machines and media were eventually purchased for the home.






For Dictation
In obvious need of repair, this "Ediphone" was used for dictation by recording onto the wax cylinders that were stored at the bottom of the stand. The cylinders could be shaved down and reused. Ediphones and Dictaphones were used as late as the 1940s.