Steampunkers rejoice: shots have surfaced online of a 1900s gramophone mixing station – and they are really quite lovely.
Proof that anything we can do, Fin de siècle Parisians could do better (or at least with more brass) comes from these pictures of a 1900s booth that allowed the operator to smoothly mix between two gramophone. Long before Nicky Siano played disco in the saunas of Manhattan or hip hop was invented in the Bronx came French engineer Leon Gaumont, who invented a loudspeaker system that could play a seamless mix of music to audiences of up to 4,000.
However, as auxetophone explains, this extraordinary machine was not used for dance clubs, but cinemas:
In 1910 Gaumont demonstrated his Chronophone system, which synchronised sound and film, at the Gaumont Palace in Paris. The compressed-air amplifier, which he called the Eglephone, was just a part of the whole system. The volume was enough for an audience of 4000.
Initially the longest moving picture that could be made with synchronised sound was only 200ft, due to the limited playing time of the Gramophone record. (Projection was at 16 frames per second) Gaumont surmounted this problem by having two gramophone platters; a deft operator could switch between them to give a more or less continuous soundtrack.