AMBEROL: The name for the first four-minute cylinder developed by Edison, 1908-1912. These cylinders are black in color, made of especially hard metallic soap, and were usually sold in green and white containers. (also see BLUE AMBEROL)

AMBEROLA: The name denoting Edison’s line of internal-horn cylinder Phonographs, 1909-1929.

BACK MOUNT: A term used to describe a talking machine which uses a back bracket which supports the horn and thus removes its inertia from the SOUNDBOX. At the time, this configuration with a tone arm independent from the horn was generally known as “tapering arm.”

BEDPLATE: The metal motor mounting plate (often a casting) to which the upper mechanism of a cylinder talking machine is mounted, and from which the motor is suspended.

BLANK: A smooth, grooveless unrecorded cylinder.

BLUE AMBEROL: The blue celluloid four-minute cylinder sold by Edison, 1912-1929. The containers for these cylinders were blue until 1917, orange and blue thereafter.

CARRIAGE: The assembly which “carries” the REPRODUCER of a cylinder talking machine across the recording.

CARRIER ARM: Edison nomenclature for the CARRIAGE. The HALF-NUT and its flat supporting spring are attached directly to the carrier arm on nearly all Edison machines.

COMBINATION ATTACHMENT: Devices offered by Edison to convert pre-1908 Phonographs (which played two-minute cylinders only) to play four-minute cylinders as well.

CONCERT: Edison’s trade name for the five-inch diameter cylinder and the Edison Phonograph designed to play it.

CRANE: The support used to mount horns of 15-inch length or greater to cylinder talking machines.

CYLINDER: A geometric form on which entertainment recordings were made, 1877-1929. The earliest sheets of tinfoil were followed by self-supporting cylinders of ozocerite-covered cardboard, stearic acid/paraffin, hard metallic soap, and celluloid. Advantages of the cylinder format included a constant surface speed and the ability to make home recordings.

DIAMOND DISC: Edison’s line of disc records and machines, 1912-1929. The Diamond Discs were vertically recorded, and the Diamond Disc Phonographs were one of the very few disc talking machines to use a FEEDSCREW.

DIAPHRAGM: The flexible, circular vibrating membrane of a SOUNDBOX or REPRODUCER which converts mechanical energy to acoustic energy or sound waves. Mica, glass, compressed paper, copper and aluminum were commonly used as diaphragms in early talking machines.

ELBOW: The connection between the horn and the SOUNDBOX or TONE ARM of a disc talking machine. Earliest elbows were made of leather, gradually giving way to metal elbows after 1900.

ENDGATE: A swinging arm which supports one end of the MANDREL on some cylinder talking machines. To mount or remove a cylinder it is therefore necessary to open and close the endgate.

FEEDSCREW: A threaded rod which usually drives a half-nut fixed to the carriage of a cylinder talking machine, thus guiding the reproducer across the record groove. Certain disc machines used FEEDSCREWS to drive the SOUNDBOX across the record or to move the turntable beneath a fixed soundbox. Similarly, some cylinder machines used feedscrews to drive a mandrel longitudinally beneath a fixed reproducer.

FRONT MOUNT: A term used to describe a disc machine where the horn attaches directly to the SOUNDBOX, and the support arm (or mount) runs directly below and parallel to the HORN. In such an arrangement the support arm points in the same general direction as the bell of the horn. At the turn of the twentieth century, this configuration was known as “straight arm.”

GRAMOPHONE: Originally the name by which Emile Berliner’s disc talking machine was known, it became a generic term to denote any disc playing talking machine, but fell out of use in the United States.

GRAND: Columbia’s trade name for the five-inch diameter cylinder and the various Columbia machines designed to play it.

GOVERNOR: The mechanical assembly in a talking machine motor which keeps the motor at constant revolutions per minute.

HALF-NUT: An internally threaded metal piece usually in the form of a nut which has been cut in half. The threads of the half-nut correspond to the threads of the FEEDSCREW. As the feedscrew revolves, the half-nut will be propelled along it, thus driving the CARRIAGE of a talking machine.

LATERAL RECORDING: The type of disc talking machine recording where the information is encoded by the groove undulating from side to side but remains at constant depth. (see VERTICAL RECORDING)

MANDREL: The tapered drum upon which the cylinder record is placed for playing.

NEEDLE: The point (usually steel) of the SOUNDBOX which rides the groove of a recording and transmits vibrations to the DIAPHRAGM.

NEEDLE HEAD: A colloquial term for the SOUNDBOX or PICK-UP which accepts vibrations directly from the record.

NEEDLE TIN: A container to store and dispense steel talking machine needles.

NEEDLE SHARPENER (OR CUTTER): A device for repointing disc talking machine needles of fiber, thorn or steel.

PHONOGRAPH: Originally, the name given by Edison to the sound recording/reproducing device he invented in 1877. In American usage, the term has been applied to sound reproducing equipment in general, regardless of age or type of record played.

RECORDER: A device for recording cylinder or disc records with a cutter stylus.

REPEATING ATTACHMENT: A device for cylinder or disc talking machines which returns the NEEDLE or STYLUS to the beginning of the record after the selection has played.

REPRODUCER: The component comprising STYLUS, linkage and DIAPHRAGM, which reproduces the sound from the record groove. This term is most frequently applied to cylinder machines. (See SOUNDBOX)

SHAVER: On a cylinder talking machine, a device which holds a knife in position to pare the recorded surface from a wax cylinder to prepare a BLANK for a new recording.

SOUNDBOX: The component comprising NEEDLE, linkage and DIAPHRAGM, which reproduces the sound from the record groove. This term is most frequently applied to disc machines. (See REPRODUCER)

STYLUS: The point (usually sapphire or diamond) of the REPRODUCER which rides the groove of a recording and transmits vibrations to the DIAPHRAGM or PICK-UP.

TALKING MACHINE: A general term for sound reproducing devices playing either cylinder or disc records, made prior to the advent of electric reproduction. Specific brands such as Graphophone, Victrola or Amberola all fall within the general category of talking machines. Modern American usage substitutes PHONOGRAPH for the older term “talking machine.”

TONE ARM: A movable hollow tube which conducts sound to the HORN from the SOUNDBOX.

TRUNNION: Rightly, the sleeve visible on either side of the CARRIAGE which slides over the FEEDSCREW shaft on a Graphophone, but commonly used to denote the entire carriage.

TURNTABLE: The round platter which supports a disc record and revolves while the record is being played. After 1960, that separate component in a SOUND SYSTEM which comprised the TURNTABLE and RECORD CHANGER was often referred to simply as the TURNTABLE.

VERTICAL RECORDING: The type of cylinder or disc recording (also known as the hill and dale process) in which the sound vibrations are encoded in a groove of varying depth. (see LATERAL RECORDING)

WAX: Although the material from which many cylinder records were made is generally referred to as “wax,” it was more rightly various formulations of metallic soap. The resemblance of this material to conventional wax promotes the common descriptive term.

Compiled by Timothy Fabrizio and George Paul. All rights reserved.