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What's Really So Special About The Vintage Phonograph On American Pickers?

History's "American Pickers" has kept audiences tuning in week after week for a variety of reasons. For one, there's the element of discovery that comes with it, seeing the show's hosts go on treasure hunts to uncover any number of historical artifacts from the unlikeliest of places. Then there's the price aspect since it's always interesting to learn what some of these supposed pieces of junk are truly worth and what the "Pickers" crew are willing to pay. All the while, the items' history serves as the driving force behind everything else.

If it wasn't for the lasting historical legacy of the items "American Pickers" features, the show wouldn't be half as entertaining as it is. From run-down cars to important pop culture artifacts, the pieces they seek out all have a story behind them that's worth telling and ties back to the modern day, which makes them the perfect focal point of the show. Not to mention, their backstories help educate viewers on all facets of history, especially those that they're not intimately familiar with and would like to learn more about.

For instance, on one occasion, the "American Pickers" team took a look at some antique phonographs, and they didn't waste the chance to delve into theseĀ groundbreaking and influential pieces of media technology.

The phonograph revolutionized audio media creation and consumption

In the "American Pickers" Season 23 episode "Picture Perfect Pick," sibling pickers Mike and businessman Robbie Wolfe travel to California to meet with a collector named Wayne Warren. They're immediately stunned by his incredible phonograph collection, which boasts numerous noteworthy pieces, including a vinyl record that contains a voice recording of famous inventor Thomas Edison. Some items only fetch a couple hundred dollars, while others are worth a few thousand, but regardless of the monetary value, these are remarkable pieces of media history nonetheless. After all, before the invention of the phonograph, recording audio and listening to it wasn't anything more than a fantasy.

Way back in the 1870s, music and voice recording were unheard of, as the technology to do so simply didn't exist. Thanks to Edison's phonograph, it became possible to listen to voice recordings, music, and more at the flip of a switch. As noted by Smithsonian Magazine, however, it also changed the way that people consumed and created auditory media. Songs became much shorter due to the limitations of the technology, and different instruments took precedent due to the abysmal quality of the recorded sound. It wasn't perfect, nor was it simple, but it set the stage for cassette tapes, CDs, and all other forms of personal audio recording and playback that would come after it.

It's not uncommon for "American Pickers" to uncover landmark pieces of cultural history, but the show's coverage of the phonograph is arguably one of the most fascinating to date.