Who Invented the Record Player?

Who Invented the Record Player?

While most people are familiar with the standard record player that was immensely popular from the 1950s to the 1980s, the technology actually dates back to the 1800s. While many of us take it for granted that we can always have music in our homes, cars and in our pocket sized MP3 players, the record player was the first machine that brought music out of the concert hall and into the home.


The record player was invented by Thomas Edison who, at the time of his death, held 1093 U.S. patents for his inventions. The first record player was called the phonograph.


The first audio recording device was invented by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857, before Edison's invention, and was called the Phonautograph. Martinville's machine could record audio but not play it back.

Intended Application

Edison stumbled upon the phonograph while he was working on a machine that could play back recorded telegraphs as well as play automated sounds over the telephone.


The phonograph was later developed into the crank turntable, which then became the highly popular mechanized turntable that sold millions of units throughout the 20th century.

Time Frame

By the 1940s, turntables had replaced phonographs completely. The record player was a popular audio medium until the middle of the 1970s, when audio cassettes began to gain popularity.

Fun Fact

Though once considered out of date and unpopular, record players have made a comeback with collectors, who pay large sums of money for new and used record players in mint condition.