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Excelsior phonograph (video)


This video documents the working principle of the Excelsior phonograph, a model based on the Edison phonograph and produced by the Excelsiorwerke Cöln factory in Cologne, Germany, between 1903 and 1906. The first part demonstrates the rotation of the mount holding the cylinder. In the second part, a cylinder is played back by the phonograph. Due to the misalignment of a control regulating the playback speed, the cylinder is played too fast, resulting in a distorted sound. Towards the end of playback, the spring driving the device loses its tension, leading to a decrease in playback speed until the rotation stops completely. This mechanical distortion of sound demonstrates the direct relationship between sound and writing surface that is at the core of phonograph technology.

The video was made by Nikita Braguinski at the Media Studies department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in April 2018. The unit is part of the department’s collection of historical apparatus, the Media Archaeological Fundus (accession no. 150).


The Media Archaeological Fundus at the Media Theory department of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Media Archaeological Fundus database entry on the Excelsior phonograph


Nikita Braguinski

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Source information

Date Published
ca. 1903–1906
Place Published

Categories and filter tags

Areas of Study
Instrument Making
Instruments and Technologies
Phonograph / phonograph record