By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (February 19, 2024) – Today’s edition of Fun with Maps celebrates the anniversary of a special invention – bringing us the earliest recordings.


Thomas Edison patented the first phonograph on February 19, 1878.

Originally the idea was that the same machine would be used to create wax cylinders engraved to match sound waves and to play back the recordings.  While there were other recording devices, Edison’s machine was the first to both record and playback the material.  In Edison’s mind, this would be used like a typewriter as a business machine.

The recording/dictating idea didn’t catch on, but soon pre-made wax cylinders came on the market.  The idea of a business machine soon turned to the idea of a phonograph in every home.  This changed music forever since people could create it on-demand wherever they were.

Edison’s first recording was of him reciting the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” 

Although music became the most popular recordings, Edison proposed books for the blind, clocks that announced the time, pronunciation guides, and family records of relatives leaving their stories in their own voices.  His company even made talking dolls with little cylinders inside them.

Edison’s Menlo Park is located in New Jersey, so thus we present Gordon’s map of the Garden State from 1837.

Map of the Garden State from 1837 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.