Waxing Nostalgic

Long before CDs – before cassettes, 8-tracks, and even those old 78 records, for that matter – there was Thomas Edison and his wax cylinders. “From John Philip Sousa’s patriotic band to the Fred Van Epps Banjo Orchestra to obscure Hawaiian hula medleys, Edison’s cylinders brought recorded music to the masses and set the stage for the entire industry to develop. Along with performers, he recorded the important and interesting people of his era talking about their work, including Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist, and Thomas A. Watson, the assistant to Alexander Graham Bell.” Hundreds of these earliest examples of recorded sound are still strewn about Edison’s New Jersey lab, and historians are working to catalog and digitize their contents.