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Old 01-02-2010, 07:14 PM
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How long would one of those wind-up phonographs play?

You know, the old phonographs, which were wound by a crank and played through one of those whose trumpet dealies -- does anyone know how long they could run?

I know records (whether cylinders or disks) themselves were fairly short in those days, but if one wound a phonograph all the way and let it run, how long might they have lasted?

And for that matter, when was the first non-crank phonograph / gramophone invented? (This is probably an easy question but my Google-fu is weak tonight.)

Last edited by choie; 01-02-2010 at 07:16 PM. Reason: cuz gud speling iz importent.
Old 01-02-2010, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: My Own Private Iowa
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I have a Victrola model 02 - just about the last-ever wind-up portable, sold (but not made) by RCA Victor about 1940. It will play about two 78rpm sides (6-7 min) when fully wound without losing speed.

The first electric phonographs came out in the late 1920s.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 01-02-2010 at 07:40 PM.
Old 01-02-2010, 09:40 PM
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My Victrola (a 1912 model VV-X) almost makes it through two sides on one wind. I have no idea if that's because my spring is a smidge weaker than Doug's, or if I'm not winding it as tight as it possibly can go - I wind it "comfortably" tight - I'd really hate to find the exact limit by having the thing go SPROING!

According to this page, the first Victrola with an electric motor option was developed in 1913. It was of only moderate success due to the limited availability of electricity in homes. It wasn't until the 1920s that the electric models, or Electrolas, met any success.
Old 01-02-2010, 10:55 PM
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Ah, gotcha, thank you both!

I had thought (hoped) there was some sort of rudimentary battery-operated version that was available much earlier, but I was probably mistaken.
Old 01-04-2010, 12:13 AM
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Sorry to respond to myself, but I thought I'd bump with some information just in case anyone was interested.

Apparently there were electric motor phonographs very early indeed, as early as 1888, though they were naturally extremely expensive and originally available only for lease. This is according to Page 7 of this report by a member of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections:

The electric-motor phonographs made between 1888 and 1894 were large, heavy, and required messywet-cell batteries. They were initially leased (at a rental fee of $40 per year). Unrestricted outright salesof phonographs began after the July 12, 1892 settlement of a legal dispute. However, since the variousEdison “Class M” Phonograph Outfits cost from $150 to $315, only highly motivated and affluent peoplebought them for personal amusement
Here's an image and more details on the Class M.

And, amazingly, here's a video of a working edition circa 1890-1893, courtesy of an Australian collector (though unfortunately he doesn't play a cylinder -- but it's great to see the action and how it worked/sounded).

Anyway I thought you collectors might be interested. Thanks again for your responses about the wind-up versions --they were highly informative!
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