The Development Of Cylinder Records - Part 3
By 1891, it had become
obvious that the future of the cylinder phonograph industry was not to be found in the business office.
initial allocation of distribution rights by the North American Phonograph
companies, this had dwindled to 19
and none of
a profit from its operations with business
new direction which
saved the cylinder industry
from bankruptcy had, in fact,
At the annual
convention of the National Phonographic
1891 it was
discovered that as
many as a third
of all cylinder machines in operation were actually being used purely for entertainment.
It is thought
new field of activity was
realized first by one Louis Glass,
enterprising regional manager of the
Company in San
It was he who designed
an ingenious mechanism
which would allow the
machine to be used as a coin-operated device at
penny arcades reproducing
cylinders of musical selections.
He is credited with installing the
first ever of these coin operated
phonographs in the Palais Royale,
in November 1889.
With four listening tubes and a
separate coin slot for each tube,
it could earn as
much as 20¢ per
As Roland Gelatt writes in
"The Fabulous Phonograph"
"The unsung genius
who first conceived
of the latter day
a faltering industry....
phonograph met with
The strains of Sousa marches
Stephen Foster melodies quickened the
tempo of phonograph business
from Massachusetts to California."
In 1889, the Edison
Phonograph Works began producing musical cylinders for use in these new coin slot mechanisms
and one of the first catalogues
known of musical cylinders
(in the early days called Phonograms)
made available the next year by the North American Phonograph
upon local talent to produce their
own amusement recordings
The Columbia Phonograph
which was the local company licensed by North American to handle the
territory of the District of Columbia, also produced
a catalogue of cylinders in 1890.
was extraordinarily lucky to
have recording access to the
Marine Band and its enormously talented and popular
leader John Philip Sousa.
Soon the recordings of this
band were in more
any other performers'
providing other local companies with Sousa cylinders,
Columbia was able very quickly
to reap enormous profits.
Other companies followed
enjoyed considerable prosperity for several years selling
a series of
stories recited by Russell
the phonograph industry ensued
at this time.
As described in
A Wonderful Invention,
a publication of the Library of
1977 to celebrate
the 100th anniversary of the
invention of the
"In the June/July
of the Phonogram,
devoted to the infant record
industry, there was a notice
that the Columbia Phonograph
was offering the public
the option of renting or purchasing its
was the beginning of the end
of all attempts at confining the talking machine to the role of an elite
Within a year all companies were selling talking
machines to anyone
who wished them,
and the foundation of the present-day commercial record industry was established.
From then on each
company was pitted against the others in capturing the record market."