Sunday, April 25, 2004

Dismuke's Virtual Talking Machine

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2004 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

With the unusual name of a "Virtual Talking Machine," one Web site seeks to preserve early phonograph recordings: those made between the years of 1900 and 1939.

Many of the recordings from the early days are "acoustical recordings," made before the invention of electronic microphones in 1925. Musicians would sing into a tube or box that was directly (mechanically) connected to the wax cylinder that later created the records. No electronic components were used in the production of acoustical recordings; they were made in essentially the same method that Thomas Edison used in 1877.

Using RealPlayer, Dismuke offers digitized music recordings that you can play on your computer's sound card. Many of the songs can be downloaded and stored on your hard drive. The site features classics by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, "Fats" Waller, Ella Fitzgerald performing with Benny Goodman's band, Bessie Smith, Enrico Caruso, Paul Whiteman, the Original Dixieland "Jass" Band, and more.

The site also features an online radio feature that operates 24 hours a day, as well as a message board.

Dismuke's Virtual Taking Machine is a great way to find old music or to introduce your elders to the world of online. You can find it at:

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