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Project: EdisonHiatus


Research, design, and construct a low-cost working replica of an Edison Phonograph for playback and recording of audio from wax cylinders.

A Newton-level Art and Technology / Mechanical Engineering project led by John Foland and Dr. Foland.

Began: July 7, 2020

Project Summary: This is a personal project borne from the intersection of a passion for historical innovations and a love of music. The Edison phonograph (and its technological descendants) transformed the musical landscape in a way that few inventions have before or since. Although most technologies have moved away from analog recording entirely, there is still a lot of love for "vinyl" recordings among audiophiles and music purists to this day.

This project aims to replicate the earliest analog audio recording devices to demonstrate their elegance and relative simplicity to the world.

Project Repository:


The goal of this project is to create a working replica (or facsimile) of an Edison phonograph recorder / player. The final product should:

  • Be reasonably low-cost.
  • Be easily replicated by others using common materials, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, or components that can be fabricated by commonly available direct-CAM methods (e.g. 3D printing).
  • Record audio onto a wax cylinder or similar facsimile of the original Edison recorder's media.
  • Play back audio at an acceptable quality.
  • Although preferred, playback and recording do not necessarily have to be accomplished by the same device.

Project Timeline

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