The Cinema Audio Society will host an exhibition and demonstration of early sound devices at the upcoming CAS Awards, Feb. 20 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
“It is with great pleasure that we are able to bring to our awards event the only surviving Edison Kinetophone circa 1894,” said CAS president Mark Ulano. “This was the first serious commercial product that represented the merging of film and sound. Additionally there will be the rare demonstration of an original Bergmann edition of an Edison tinfoil phonograph. We are extremely grateful to The Antique Phonograph Society for generously making this exhibition possible. These special devices reconnect our community with the early history of our art form and we are delighted to share this with our attendees as well as the broader community of sound professionals and media.”
The Kinetophone was an early attempt by Thomas Edison and William Dickson to create a sound-film system. It was a Kinetoscope whose modified cabinet included an accompanying cylinder phonograph. There was no attempt at synchronization. The viewer listened through tubes to a phonograph concealed in the cabinet and performing approximately appropriate music or other sound.
Even as Edison followed his dream of securing the popularity of the Kinetoscope by adding sound to its allure, many in the field were beginning to suspect that film projection was the next step that should be pursued. When Norman Raff communicated his customers’ interest in such a system to Edison, the great inventor summarily rejected the notion. “No, if we make this screen machine that you are asking for, it will spoil everything. We are making these peep show machines and selling a lot of them at a good profit. If we put out a screen machine there will be a use for maybe about 10 of them in the whole United States. With that many screen machines you could show the pictures to everybody in the country, and then it would be done. Let’s not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”
The exhibition and demonstration will open to the public at 4:00 p.m. in the Biltmore Business Center and will remain open through the cocktail hour until dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Antique Phonograph Society provides outreach to communities, collectors and those interested in learning more about the history of recorded sound and the means to listen to it.