Thomas Alva Edison Part Two: The Competition

Lost and Found Sound: His Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise

Jenny Lind and Melba advertisement for Edison's competitor, Victor Records.

Jenny Lind and Melba advertisement for Edison's competitor, Victor Records. hide caption

itoggle caption
A Caruso advertisement for Victor Records.

A Caruso advertisement for Victor Records. hide caption

itoggle caption

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison is a two-part story produced by The Kitchen Sisters™, Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva that explores the recorded legacy of the near-deaf inventor of the talking machine.

Part II: The Competition

The idea of recording something for posterity was really one of the important ideas in creating the industry of recorded sound. Great moments of culture were going by —Caruso, Dame Melba. If you weren’t there, if you weren’t at the Metropolitan Opera House you were going to miss it. The industry of recorded sound said, "Here is your chance to capture this historic moment."


Edison was completely against creating stars. He saw the expense, the inconvenience, and he didn’t get along with the Carusos of this world. He was a rough and ready westerner and he rubbed the the wrong way. As a businessman he said "Let’s not even put the name of the performer on the recording. Let the listener decide. But on the other hand, Victor went with the Star and it sold."

The sounds in the story range from the first ever recorded words to diamond discs cut in 1927. Some of these archival artifacts are worn by time and play. But listen and you will hear some of the oldest sound recordings that exist anywhere.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Thomas Alva Edison is the first story in the Lost and Found Sound series. It was produced by The Kitchen Sisters™, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva in collaboration with David Giovannoni and Jim Anderson. Mixed by Robin Wise

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.