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Our equipment collection includes, among other things, historical devices for sound recording and conservation, including apparatuses from the Marburg "Phonetische Kabinett" [Phonetics Device Gallery] founded by Wilhelm Viëtor in 1893.

Edison phonograph

Bild eines Edison-Phonographen.
Photo: Brigitte Ganswindt

The phonograph is an audio recorder that can record and play back sound waves using sound cylinders. This recorder was first introduced by Thomas Alva Edison in 1877. The first phonograph developed by Edison had a cylinder covered with a tin foil sheet. In addition, the device had a total of two sound boxes, which served either to record or to reproduce the sound. Connected to these was a funnel, which served to focus the previously recorded sound waves when the cylinders were played back. In addition, a blunt needle was mounted inside these sound boxes, which imprinted the incoming sound waves into the existing cylinder. For this purpose, the cylinder had to be turned evenly by a crank. After that, the cylinder could be played back with the recorded sound. With this form of cylinder, it was possible to play back what had been recorded a maximum of five times. After that, this was no longer possible due to the worn groove depressions. Edison counteracted this in 1887 by designing the wax cylinder for the phonograph. Here, the cylinder was now provided with a layer of paraffin wax. The more resistant surface of the cylinder now made it possible to play it more often than before, and the sound quality was also improved.


Photo: Brigitte Ganswindt

The kymograph, developed in 1846 by physiologist Carl Ludwig (1816-1895) in Marburg, was originally used to measure cardiovascular values such as blood pressure. Since the measuring device can be used to graphically display pressure changes, the kymograph (wave recorder) was also used in phonetics to record sound vibrations.
In the process, pressure changes were recorded on a rotating cylinder covered with sooted paper by means of a writing instrument.

Phonetic double typewriter

Bild der Tasten einer phonetischen Doppelschreibmaschine. Die Tasten besitzen eine Doppelbelegung.
Photo: Brigitte Ganswindt

A phonetic double typewriter was versatile. On the one hand, the double typewriter served as a simple typewriter with which one could copy handwritten texts. However, the crucial function becomes clear only by a closer look at the typewriter. Almost every key had a double assignment of Latin letter and phonetic special character. This meant that phonetic symbols could be integrated into typewritten texts and no longer had to be added manually.