This folder contains correspondence, interoffice communications, and other documents relating to the commercial and technical development of Edison's cylinder and disc phonograph. There are numerous technical and administrative documents written by Edison engineers, experimenters, and company officials, including notes about recording quality and manufacturing techniques written by engineers John P. Constable, Absalom M. Kennedy, and J. W. S. Moss, by production managers William Walter Dinwiddie and C. E. Fairbanks, and by music supervisor Clarence B. Hayes. Also included are communications by William Maxwell, manager of the Phonograph Division, on the introduction of new models, the demand for records, and business plans and strategies. At the end of the folder are fifteen pages of undated notes by Edison about price fixing, patent rights, antitrust litigation, and plans to revise arrangements with jobbers and dealers.
In addition, there are numerous incoming letters, some of which bear Edison's marginal comments, on surface noise and other sound quality issues, as well as suggestions for improvements to the phonograph. Some items relate to gifts by Edison of phonographs and recordings to organizations such as the Newark Home for Crippled Children. The correspondents include C. F. Bateholts of General Electric's Publication Bureau, Edison associate Frank D. Fagan, George F. Kunz of Tiffany & Co., and inventors F. A. Falk, J. F. Fechtenburg, and E. F. Taylor.
Approximately 15 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected items consist primarily of inquiries, requests, suggestions, and complaints from the general public, which received no response or merely a routine reply stating that Edison was away on government research and too busy to read his mail. Some of the ideas for technical improvements were evaluated by John P. Constable before being rejected. Also unselected are routine business correspondence relating to orders, purchasing, and agreements, involving employees such as Gilbert H. Baldwin, Frederick S. Brown, E. E. Davidson, Archibald C. Emery, and Leonard C. McChesney; copies of printed sales letters used by jobbers; lists of forthcoming records and new dealers; sales memoranda by William Maxwell; the personal business correspondence of Edison's assistant William H. Meadowcroft; and copies of routine production, testing, and shipping reports, a few of which bear Edison's initials. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.