wax cylinder

What is wax cylinder?

wax cylinder meaning in Information Science terminology / glossary / dictionary is:

An early sound recording medium developed in the late 1870s by Thomas Edison in which tiny indentations were made in grooves on the outside surface of a cylinder, which could be played back as sound on a phonograph. Edison first used cylinders made of tinfoil but later switched to hard wax. The cylinders are about 2 inches in diameter, 4 inches long, and very brittle (click here to see an example or try a search on the keywords “wax cylinders” in Google Images). By 1910, the Edison Speaking Company was the only major sound recording company still making cylinders–all the other manufacturers had switched to disk phonograph records, which were less expensive to produce and could be recorded on both sides. Because the voices of some historically important people are recorded only on early wax cylinders, efforts are underway to preserve them for research.Click here to learn more about the history of the Edison Cylinder Phonograph, courtesy of About.com. A massive Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project is in progress at the University of California, Santa Barbara. For additional information, try Tinfoil.com or Phonograph Cylinders: A Beginner’s Guide by Tim Gracyk. The Library of Congress recommends that wax cylinders be at room temperature when handled because the thermal shock from the warmth of the hand can cause a cold cylinder to shatter. Also, the grooves should not be touched because of susceptibility to mold (insert fingers in the center hole).


reference: ABC-CLIO