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Saturday, May 16th. The first disc-type phonograph record was demonstrated publicly on this date 132 years ago.

The 1888 invention by Washington, D.C.’s Emile Berliner was called a gramophone, and used a flat, grooved disc to reproduce sound, rather than the cylinders of the day. These proved easier to duplicate for the mass  market.

In 1899, 151,000 phonograph players were manufactured. That number rose steadily to over 4 million just a half century ago.

The advent of the compact disc in the early 1980s began the erosion of the vinyl disc and turntable dominance in recorded music.

Vinyl has always had aficionados, and is enjoying a dramatic comeback. In 2018, 68,000 turntables and 16.8 million vinyl records were sold.

Profile America is beginning it’s 24th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Sources:

Joseph Nathan Kane, Kane’s Famous First Facts, Fifth Edition, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY 1997, #7006

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