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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The historiography of recording has done great service in enumerating technical devices. While in the beginning, the phonograph was immediately accepted as a scientific instrument, its commercial use soon dominated. Scientists, however, did not stop using the phonograph but rather integrated its new functions into their own work. This article traces this ambiguity, looking at the emergence of the Phonogram Archive in Berlin. More specifically, it shows that the researchers had to adjust, calibrate, and standardize the new functions again before integrating them into the scientific context. It thus proposes a view of the complex history of sound as it moves through the laboratory. Science and technology studies (STS) offer the framing for a history of media that can accommodate the idea of change and allow for the analysis of the phonograph as a site of intersections between its various uses, which is the crux of this article.

Keywords: phonograph, recording, Phonogram Archive, Science and technology studies, laboratory

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