This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Friday, August 28, 2009

1920 Electrola

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The Electrola was developed in 1913 to replace the hand-cranked Victrola Phonograph Machines. This one was developed around 1920 and manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Company. It was equipped with an electric motor which could be turned on and off by clicking a switch.

Even though it was developed as early as 1913, the device didn't experience many sales because of the high price tag and due to the fact that most families still had not incorporated electricity into their homes until the 1920's.

Encased in a wooden frame like a piece of furniture, the machine was quite large, heavy and bulky. The bottom contained an open compartment in which to store things. If you open the top lid, you could slip in a record-like device and move the arm with a needle onto the edge of the record and it would play the sound.

To me, it looks like the one of those old-fashoioned albums I remember my parents playing on those big stereos back in the 70's. My uncle had a record player that looked similar to this, but I don't think it was quite this old. It looked more like a record player from the 50's or 60's.

I apologize for the quality of these photos. They were taken at the Charleston Historical Museum and I could not use any flash and it was through one of those clear protection glass or plastic pieces. I thought it might be helpful to some of you writers who might be writing a story set in the 1920's.


I think these photos were fine. We had one of these when I was a kid. Funny story about it ... when we moved, my dad gave it away, and only afterwards told my mom. He gave it to her sister, so it is still in the family. But he didn't want to move an antique. Mmm, not such a funny story. Kind of wish we had it now. I enjoyed this bit of history.

Thanks for posting this and the information. It was very informative and helpful.