Re: distribution and persistence, ca. 1900

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From: Dave Long (
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 11:31:37 PDT

> One of my longest-standing questions about the history of technology
> is why sound-recording took as long as it did. After the escapement
> that allowed clock mechanisms to rotate at a precise speed, the
> phonograph was there for the taking ...

Does sound-recording even need escapements? I thought the earliest
machines were hand-cranked (like early movies, for that matter), and
one just trusted the wetware to make it sound more-or-less correct.

Somewhere I had read of a cereal-box giveaway which consisted of a
?Churchill? phrase (spoken word, at least) encoded on a ridged strip.
Playback was accomplished by pulling the strip, at a "proper" rate,
against one's thumbnail.

Come to think of it, are there any early examples of recording in
the sense of direct encodings, as opposed to reproduction of action
via encoding by a person? Cartesian coordinates surely wouldn't
have been so surprising if such isomorphisms were in general use


(snapping a chalk line is a rather simple direct recording, but it
suffers from indirect decoding...)

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