J. B. Fenby

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Joseph Beverley Fenby [1] was an inventor in St Johns, Worcester, England.[1] He was granted a patent on 13 January 1863 (Brit. pat. 101)[2] for an unsuccessful device called either the “Electro-Magnetic Phonoscope” or the “Electro-Magnetic Phonograph”.[1][3] If the latter name is correct, it could make Fenby the first to have coined the word "phonograph", long before Thomas Edison did so for his very different invention. Fenby's concept detailed a system that would record a sequence of piano or organ keyboard strokes onto paper tape. Although no model or workable device was ever made, it could be seen as a link to the concept of punched paper for player piano rolls (1880s), as well as Herman Hollerith's punch card tabulator (used in the 1890 census), a distant precursor to the modern computer.


  • Oliver Read, From Tin Foil to Stereo: Evolution of the Phonograph (1959) 2nd edition 1976: coauthor Walter Welch, Indianapolis: Howard W. Sams & Co., ISBN 0-672-21206-4


  1. ^ a b c Godwin, George (18 July 1863). The Builder, v. 21, p. 522 (via Google Books). Accessed 2014-05-09.
  2. ^ Koenigsberg, Allen (1990), The patent history of the phonograph, 1877-1912: A source book containing 2,118 U.S. sound recording patents & 1,013 inventors arranged numerically, chronologically, and alphabetically : illustrated by 101 original patent drawings with detailed commentaries on each : additional historical essays on the U.S. patent system, APM Press, p. 25 
  3. ^ His Majesty's Stationery Office (May 19, 1863), The London Gazette: the Appointed Organ for All Announcements of the Executive, Whitehall, London, England: Published by Authority, p. 2641