140 years ago today, Thomas Edison unveiled what became his favorite invention— a machine that could record sound —and called it the phonograph. At his Menlo Park, New Jersey lab, he wrapped a piece of tin-foil around a cylinder and shouted into one side while turning a crank. A needle vibrated against the foil with his voice and carved a line into the foil, which could be played back by a needle moving over the grooves a second time. Cylinder recordings on wax were the first records and Edison eventually switched to disks on platters. He improved his “talking machine” continually over the next 50 years. WATCH a reenactment… (1877)
This is a scene with Spencer Tracy from the movie, Edison the Man, which shows how the inventor created the first sound recording.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Judas Maccabaeus restored the Temple in Jerusalem – The first Hanukkah (164 BC)
- Voltaire, the French Enlightenment writer whose pointed social criticism satirizing French nobility and advocating freedom of religion and separation of church and state, landed him in prison for a year, but also spurred leaders of the American Revolution, was born (1694)
- Rebecca Felton became the first woman US Senator (1922)
- Ella Fitzgerald, at age 16, debuted as a singer at the Apollo Theater (1934)
- Toy Story, the first computer-generated feature film, was released (1995)
- Florida’s Supreme Court affirmed that votes in the presidential recount should continue to be tallied (2000)
- NATO invited Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to become members (2002)
And, on this day in 1941, the first broadcast of the live radio blues program King Biscuit Time aired, the longest running daily radio show in history, which inspired blues musicians like B.B. King, Robert Nighthawk, and James Cotton.
Originating each weekday from KFFA in Helena, Arkansas, the 30-minute lunchtime show was the only station that would play music by African-Americans, and it reached a wide audience in the Mississippi Delta region.
Sponsored by the local brand of flour, King Biscuit Flour, the show’s debut featured blues artists Sonny Boy Williamson II and Robert Lockwood, Jr. playing live in studio. King Biscuit Time celebrated its 17,000th broadcast on May 13, 2014. (In the 1970s until 2007, The King Biscuit Flower Hour was a one-hour rock and roll radio program, the name of which was derived from King Biscuit Time.)
And, Happy Birthday to Goldie Hawn, who turns 72 today. The actor, director, and producer is known for her roles in TV’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and films like Shampoo, The First Wives Club, Bird on a Wire, and Cactus Flower, for which she won the 1969 Oscar for best supporting actress.
It was her role as producer and star of Private Benjamin that broke the glass ceiling in Hollywood, proving films produced by women and solely starring women can be blockbusters. For the last decade, instead of acting, Hawn has focused on family, and her nonprofit Foundation’s MindUP program, which provides education programs for youth intended to improve student performance through mindfulness training. Check out her 2012 book, 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children–and Ourselves–the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happy Lives. (1945)