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Dead Media

As our Friday feature, Lost and Found Sounds continues, NPR's Dan Charles visits Dave Morton, a New Jersey man who saves technology for sound recording that came .. and went. We learn about the dictabelts, the wire recorders, the other odd devices that captured sound besides phonographs and tape. We hear Oscar Hammerstein dictating notes on a show, soldiers in the Pacific singing, and samples of eight-track tapes.

Lost and Found Sound

Independent producers The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, continue their story about the man who invented the phonograph. This is part of the Friday feature called "Lost and Found Sound." After Edison invented the talking machine, other people experimented and advanced his ideas, and then competed to sell machines and recordings. Edison stuck with the cylinder, while others preferred the flat disc, which became the industry standard. Edison hated the disk. He didn''t like the two-sided ones, because he felt he could have sold TWO recordings if there was only one-song per disk. The Wizard of Menlo Park suffered from his judgments and his distractions. He spent eight critical years away from work on improving the phonograph to follow up on the electric light. When he returned, musical tastes had changed. The other companies had signed big artists. Edison preferred less flashy music and was notoriously cheap with payments to artists. For all these reasons, Edison failed at the record business.