Los Angeles, CA, 28 February 2016—
The Antique Phonograph Society hosted an exhibition and demonstration of early sound devices at the Cinema Audio Society Awards on February 20 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
To view some photos of interest, you may browse the following Dropbox link.
Following is a summary and some press-release comments regarding the event:
The Cinema Audio Society is the professional guild for the film and television sound industry. Its annual black tie Awards banquet, with almost 500 attending, is one of the major events of “Oscars week”.
The Antique Phonograph Society provided an exhibition of early sound and sound-related film technology – the birth of commercial sound recording – for the banquet attendees. At least 200 sound and movie professionals visited the salon, enjoying up close a live recording and playback session on an original Edison Bergmann tinfoil phonograph. Attendees also viewed the only operating Edison Kinetophone (1894), the first attempt to provide link motion pictures and sound (unsynchronized). This is 30 years prior to The Jazz Singer. Even those CAS attendees with knowledge of their industry’s beginnings had never seen or witnessed a performance of these machines. They asked many questions and a number returned several times, bringing friends and colleagues with them.
A Pathe Concert machine greeted attendees. With its 20” diameter records, its sound was so true and loud that it amazed the professional sound engineers in the grand hall, notwithstanding its acoustic amplification and spring power motor. So loud in fact that at times it interfered with the celebrity interviews several hundred feet away.
Edison Bergmann tinfoil phonograph
Trademark Berliner and Nipper
Edison Hardy tinfoil phonograph (replica)
Western Electric Vitaphone projector (prototype)
Edison Home with flowered morning glory horn
Edison Home with 14” horn
Victor 4 with mahogany spear tip horn
Victrola XVI in American Walnut
Array of distinctive cylinder records and boxes
Array of 78 rpm record labels
Steel, bamboo and rose thorn needles
Tinfoil and silent film expert Joe Rinaudo served as the APS impresario, demonstrating the Bergmann tinfoil. Hosting APS members were John and Pat Levin and Jeff, Steve and Sandy Oliphant.
ABOUT THE KINETOPHONE (FROM THE CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY PRESS RELEASE)
“It was with great pleasure that we were able to bring to our awards event the only surviving Edison Kinetophone circa 1894,” said CAS President Mark Ulano, “this was the first serious commercial product that represented the merging of film and sound. He continued, “These special devices reconnect our community with the early history of our art form and we are delighted to share this with our attendees as well as the broader community of sound professionals and media”.
The Kinetophone was an early attempt by Edison and Dickson to create a sound-film system. It was a Kinetoscope whose modified cabinet included an accompanying cylinder phonograph. There was no attempt at synchronization. The viewer listened through tubes to a phonograph concealed in the cabinet and performing approximately appropriate music or other sound.
Even as Edison followed his dream of securing the popularity of the Kinetoscope by adding sound to its allure, many in the field were beginning to suspect that film projection was the next step that should be pursued. When Norman Raff communicated his customers’ interest in such a system to Edison, the great inventor summarily rejected the notion. “No, if we make this screen machine that you are asking for, it will spoil everything. We are making these peep show machines and selling a lot of them at a good profit. If we put out a screen machine there will be a use for maybe about ten of them in the whole United States. With that many screen machines you could show the pictures to everybody in the country—and then it would be done. Let’s not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.“
Ulano said: “We are extremely grateful to The Antique Phonograph Society for generously making this exhibition possible.”
The Antique Phonograph Society provides outreach to communities, collectors and those interested in learning more about the history of recorded sound and the means to listen to it. Almost 1,000 strong, APS engages in and shares original research, in both published form and at collector events. They are a public charity that relies upon tax-deductible donations to continue to provide services and research in this important area of sound and film history.
Additional event coverage may be found on the CAS website, and also in The Hollywood Reporter.