Dictating Machine

Dictating Machine

Black box-like dictaphone machine on four legs

Three racks between the legs vary to create divots in the shelves to hold nine wax cylinders. Three shelves can hold three cylinders per rack. Top of the machine consists of numerous parts, most notably a pair of stethoscope-like earphones.

The dicaphone is a devise which records and replays dictation invented by Sir Thomas Edison. The system consists of three machines that stores information on wax coated cylinders. The Edison dictaphone, trademarked as the 'Ediphone' in 1917, contains three machines which serve the functions of recording (‘The Talker’), replaying (‘The Listening Post’), and erasing (‘The Shaver’) the information from the cylinders.

To record sound, one is required to speak into the receiving mechanism of the dictation machine. As sound waves are detected the dictating machine imprints the information in the wax by means of a series of indentations. This unit has three undulating shelves under the main mechanism which serves as storage for a reserve of nine cylindrical rolls. To listen to the recording, the wax imprinted cylinder would be transferred to the transcribing machine. The operator of the transcribing machine could hear the reproduced message through a set of earphones. This machine has speed control and repeat features which were favoured among typists. The final machine was a shaving machine. This machine erased the imprints on the wax cylinders by shaving a new smooth surface. Each wax cylinder stored approximately 1000 words and could be reused over 100 times.

This Ediphone was among the technological advanced equipment used at the Yukon Electric Company in Whitehorse. Edison actually developed the concept of an electrical generating station as a means to power his invention the light bulb. The Ediphone was donated by the Phelps Family. W.L. Phelps was a barrister whose role in the Yukon Electrical Company was integral to its conception. His son John Phelps eventually was employed by the Yukon Electrical Company and was instrumental in moving from diesel to hydroelectric power. In 1950, the hydro plant began operation on Fish Lake Road followed by a second plant in 1954. Today the two plants continue to feed power into the Yukon power grid. Original owner: John Phelps


MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse

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