The history of the LP record begins with the history of the phonograph. Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in his Menlo Park Laboratory in November of 1877.[1] Although he would later call it his “favorite invention” Edison quickly abandoned the phonograph to focus his attentions on the incandescent lamp. His invention was picked up and improved upon by others such as Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Sumner Tainter, and Emile Berliner before Edison returned to it in 1887.[2]

The history of the phonograph can be divided into three periods: the acoustic era (beginning with Edison in 1877 and ending in the 1920s), the electrical era (beginning in the 1920s and ending in 1982), and the digital era (1982-present).[3] These pages will focus on the antecedents and invention of one of the most crucial inventions in the history of the phonograph: the invention of the 33 1/3 rpm long-playing record.

[1] Andre Millard, America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1.

[2] American Memory. “The History of the Edison Cylinder Phonograph,” Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edcyldr.html (accessed April 18, 2013).

[3] Millard, 6.

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