Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 127

The Phonograph

American Law Review, Vol. 26 (1892), p. 254-55.

Since our "Note" on this subject in a former number, we have received several letters of inquiry in regard of the practicability of using the phonograph instead of the stenographer.  After having a constant experience with the phonograph since that note was written, we are able to reply that we still have confidence in the practicability of the instrument.  A large portion of our work, and that too requiring the greatest accuracy, has been dictated to the phonograph.  It is not, however, as easy to dictate to the phonograph, as it is to dictate to a stenographer.  You are obliged to put your mouth to a tube and dictate in a loud voice, breathing your fetid breath.  This is the most disagreeable feature of dictating to the phonograph.  Moreover the machine is a delicate one, and is liable to get out of order; but with a little practice and with the caution of keeping duplicates of the delicate parts of it, this danger may be so guarded as to prevent delay.  The "phonograph" of Mr. Edison, and also the "graphophone," passed out of the hands of the inventors into the hands of a third party, and the corporations, which he organized in different States to work the business, have found it more profitable to work the nickel-in-the-slot feature of the instrument,-- [255] that is, those machine which are set up in saloons and drug stores which give forth tunes when nickels are dropped in a slot,--than the more useful phonograph, which was designed to take the place of the stenographer.  The result is that the phonograph has not been perfected as rapidly as ought to have been expected.  It is understood that the patent upon it is about to expire, and then we may hope that some enterprising company of machinists, like the manufacturers of the Remington typewriter, will take hold of it and give us a perfected machine which will take the place of the office stenographer.  It ought to be added that it is a little more difficult and tedious for an amanuensis to take off the record from the sense of hearing, than it is for a good stenographer to copy his notes upon a typewriter.  But on the whole, we see no reason why a boy or girl possessing fair mechanical ingenuity should not soon become capable of charging their own battery and taking care of their own phonograph without the aid of an expert from the general office.  Any watchmaker ought to be able to learn to do it very quickly.