Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday in History: Terrified of the Future

It’s impossible for an inventor to know how future generations will use an invention: how it will be improved, if it will be overshadowed by something new, or whether it will be completely ignored. All one can do is hope that their invention improves the state of the world and makes life better or more convenient for those who come after.
On this day in history in 1888, one of the first audio recordings in the world was played at a press conference in London on Thomas Edison’s phonograph. Listeners were treated to a piece by one of the foremost English composers of the day: “The Lost Chord” by Arthur Sullivan.
At one of the parties held shortly after the debut, Sullivan himself was treated to a demonstration. He thought the invention and the accomplishment Edison had achieved was wonderful, but had he had some reservations. “I can only say that I am… terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever…”
If Sullivan and Edison could listen to some Top 40 Hits today, I wonder what they would say.

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