On November 21st, 1877, Thomas Edison announces his first great invention - the phonograph, a way to record and play back sound.

On November 21st, 1877, Thomas Edison announces his first great invention - the phonograph, a way to record and play back sound.

The American inventor stumbled on one of his great inventions – the phonograph – while working on a way to record telephone communication at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

His work led him to experiment with a stylus on a tinfoil cylinder, which, to his surprise, played back the short song he had recorded, "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB". Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the Yankee inventor world famous, and he was dubbed the "Wizard of Menlo Park".

Edison set aside this invention in 1878, and other inventors moved forward to improve on the phonograph. Although initially used as a dictating machine, the phonograph proved to be a popular tool for entertainment, and in 1906 Edison unveiled a series of musical and theatrical selections to the public through his National Phonograph Company.