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Explore the technological and cultural history of the modern turntable. This is a story that stretches back to 1857 and reaches all the way to 2008, traversing the Atlantic from France to the US.


If you’d like to order the poster, or you have any questions or comments about this site, please contact Mike through the form on the bottom of this page or email mike ~at~


Buy this poster in the shop.



Three innovators that changed the way the world hears sound and plays music: Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, Grandmaster Flash, and Thomas Edison.

Scott de Martinville and Edison lived in the mid to late 1800s, while Flash is most famous for his innovations in the latter half of the 1900s. Though working a century apart, these men were all pioneers, pushing boundaries and experimenting with technology to bring their ideal sound and vision to life. In the near future we will explore the work of other pioneers, such as Emile Berliner (the father of modern disc records), but for now we present 3 exemplary innovators. Read on…

Eduard-Leon Scott de Martinville

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (25 April 1817 – 26 April 1879) was a French printer and bookseller who lived in Paris. He invented the earliest known sound recording device, the phonautograph, which was patented in France on 25 March 1857

Read more on Wikipedia

Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash, aka Joseph Saddler (born January 1, 1958 in Bridgetown, Barbados), is an American hip hop recording artist and DJ—one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing.

Read more on Wikipedia

Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb.

Read more on Wikipedia


Curious about the broader history? Read the essay on the inspiration for this project and explanation of key events that populate the timeline of the information graphic and poster.


Information Graphic

Here’s an information graphic that explores many facets of the fascinating history of turntables. Please scroll down the page to see all of the graphic, and if you’re curious, we also an essay about the inspiration for this project, and a poster that can be shipped worldwide.

History of Turntables Information Graphic by Mike Simpson, Strong+Free


Embed this image on your site with this code:

<a href=””><img title=”Turntables: A History from A-D (Analogue to Digital)” alt=”History of Turntables information graphic” src=”” width=”1000″ border=”0″ /></a>

Courtesy of: <a href=””>History of Turntables from A-D (Analogue to Digital)</a>

Width is a value of 1000 pixels but can be changed to a value like 100% if that suits your needs better. If you use your own code, please make the attribution link back to History of Turntables from A-D (Analogue to Digital)



Photo Gallery

Creative Credit

Most of these photos are from photographers who posted their pictures with a Creative Commons license at Flickr. Full credit is contained in the captions. Thank you to all the photographers!

All graphics and illustrations were created by Mike Simpson of Strong+Free Design-Media – with the exception of the circular illustration of Grandmaster Flash, which was beautifully rendered by Ben Ackerman.


None of this would be possible without the amazing work of the scientists who comprise the First Sounds collaborative. They were the subject of an amazing New York Times story in 2008. Please explore the following links for more of the “big picture.”

First Sounds – audio historians and scientists

NY Times article on the discovery/recovery of the 1860 Scott recording

Mike Simpson


Hello. I’d like to personally welcome you and thank you for visiting this site. I’m the designer and writer, Mike Simpson. This project has been a labour of love for the last few years. It’s exciting to see it evolve to include a website and poster. I’m planning a mobile/tablet app which will be coming in the next few months (iOS/Android using Adobe DPS). I’m so happy to share this amazing story with you. If you’d share it with others I’d be very appreciative. Enjoy the site!




Questions, comments? Would you like to contribute?

Please email Mike at this domain. Thank you.