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A device utilizing a vibrating pen to graphically represent sound on discs of paper, without the idea of playing it back in any manner, was built by Edouard-Leon Scott of France in 1857. The device, known as a phonautograph was built to examine the characteristics of sounds, but the inventor failed to appreciate that it actually recorded the sound. An early recording made in 1860 has recently been reproduced using computer technology.
In 1877, Thomas Edison developed the phonautograph into a machine, the phonograph, that was capable of replaying the recordings made. The recordings were made on tinfoil, and were initially intending to be used as a voice recording medium, typically for office dictation. This initial machine was developed further by Edward Guilliard, though his developments were subsequently incorporated into Edison's patent, something that he had to fight for the next 26 years.
This phonograph cylinder dominated the recorded sound market beginning in the 1880s. Lateral-cut disc records were invented by Emile Berliner in 1888 and were used exclusively in toys until 1894, when Berliner began marketing disc records under the Berliner Gramophone label. The Edison Blue Amberol Record was introduced in 1912, with a longer playing time of around 4 minutes (at 160 rpm) and a more resilient playing surface than its wax predecessor, but the format was doomed due to the difficulty of reproducing recordings. By November 1918 the patents for the manufacture of lateral-cut disc records expired, opening the field for countless companies to produce them, causing disc records to overtake cylinders in popularity. Production of Amberol cylinders ceased in the late 1920s. Disc records would dominate the market until they were supplanted by the Compact Disc, starting from the 1980s.