Sound and Movies--A Debate

Since the debate is about technology used mainly for entertainment, I suppose it belongs here.

I was thinking the other day of how simple the technology used by a record player is. Hook up a needle to a diaphragm that’s sensitive enough to be caused to vibrate by sound waves. Roll this needle over a surface that’s soft enough for the needle to cut into it. To play the sound back, simply rolls the needle over the bumps that were cut into it.

It suddenly occured to me; why didn’t they think of this before? Don’t you think sometime during the last 5000 years of civilization, someone else might have invented something similar? I know Thomas Edison discovered it by accident, but couldn’t someone have had a similar accident before?

My theory, inspired by this site
is this;
There was never a use for it before. Songs from 200 years ago, but the original 78rpm records could only hold about 4 minutes of sound. And it would be nothing but a waste of money to buy a recording of someones voice when you hear people talk for free every day.

So why did it become popular in our time? I think it’s because of motion pictures. Is it just a coincidence that the development of recorded sound happened around the same time as the development of motion pictures?

IIRC, by the 1870’s, people were watching movies of only 3 or 4 frames that kept repeating over & over. This is about the same time the phonograph was invented. So, people were making pictures move, and they always wanted to add sound to them. The minute the phonograph was invented, the motion picture entrepeneurs snatched up the idea and immediately started figuring out ways to put sound to their pictures.

So, my theory, if it weren’t for the motion picture, no one would have had any use for the phonograph, and the technology would never have been developed. What are your thoughts?

I think the popularity of the phonograph had more to do with the development and popularity of radio than the development of the moving picture. (I could probably work up a conspiracy theory based on the rivalry of Tesla and Edison, but it wouldn’t be very original . . .)

Then again, there was a huge music box fad in the 1890s; perhaps the phonograph was meant to capitalize on that phenomenon.

Perhaps the two decades before and after the turn of the century (the last one, not the current one) were just a resurgence of sound-reproductive technology all over. That sort of thing does happen (three different mathematicians came up with hyperbolic geometry at the same time, for instance).

Just like manned heavier than air flying machines, the time was ripe. These devices are the end result of hundreds of years of technology. If not for Edison, the Wrights, Dagguerre, Bell, et al., it still would’ve happened at near the same time. They really weren’t creating a new science, they were branching existing science to new paths. Sure, there were some breakthroughs.
But, most scientific advancement of the 19th century was simply the next step to take.