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Charles Sumner Tainter

Sound-Recording Instruments

U.S. Patent No. 341,288
Inducted in 2006
Born April 25, 1854 - Died April 20, 1940

Charles Tainter invented various sound-recording instruments, including an improved version of Thomas Edison's phonograph known as the graphophone, the photophone, and the dictaphone.

Born in Watertown, Massachusetts, Tainter, a self-educated man, began working for electrical and optical instrument companies in Boston, Massachusetts in 1870. His experience led him to establish his own business, where he worked with Alexander Graham Bell making electrical devices. After Tainter contributed to Bell's first transmission of sound, the duo created the radiophone, an instrument that used light waves and selenium cells to transmit wireless sound.

Tainter continued working with recorded sound, collaborating with Bell and Bell's cousin, Chichester A. Bell, to develop the graphophone. The trio devised a method to photograph speech vibrations using a wax-coated cardboard cylinder and flexible recording needle, both of which were superior to Edison's phonograph. Tainter also invented the dictophone. Its immediate success as a device used to record speech for later playback led to other inventors, including Thomas Edison, imitating Tainter's breakthroughs. Receiving several important patents in 1886, Tainter shaped the future of the recording industry.

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