Making the Perfect Record: From Inscription to Impression in Early Magnetic Recording

Exhibiting the Telegraphone

For instance, the telegraphone received a gold medal at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition. From the perspective of industry and consumer culture, that event was a major gathering on an international scale. Clark and Nielsen (1995) explain the scene at the telegraphone’s demonstration. They note that novelist Émile Zola was present, as was Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, who consented to a recording. They also point out that “Poulsen no doubt sought to emulate Alexander Graham Bell, who had induced Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro to use his newly-invented telephone twenty-four years before at the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia” (1995, 16). Put differently: Poulsen and his research team followed a long legacy of publicly dramatizing the potential of technologies at such exhibitions. Indeed, Poulsen’s 1900 demonstration, and Bell’s in 1876, are only two instances in a tradition of science fiction-esque performances at fairs between 1850 and 1900.

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