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Thomas A. Edison
Thomas A. Edison, the "Wizard of Menlo Park"

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Thomas Edison and the First Phonograph
August 12, 1877

To Edison's surprise, the cylinder recorded his message, "Mary had a little lamb." People had a hard time believing his discovery at first, but soon doubt turned into awe as Edison became known as "The Wizard of Menlo Park," after the name of the city in New Jersey where he did his work. Sound recording was rapidly becoming an American industry.

As a young boy growing up in the late 19th century, Harry Reece remembered the invention of the phonograph as one in a series of technological marvels: "Electric lights were something to marvel at . . . the old Edison phonograph with its wax cylinder records and earphones was positively ghostly . . ." Here you can listen to one of the early musical recordings.

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