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Some things from the past are best slathered in supporting information. Others work better Tumblr-style, decontextualized. I think Philip Hubert's 1889 thoughts on the phonograph are the latter:

I really see no reason why the newspaper of the future should not come to the subscriber in the shape of a phonogram. It would have to begin, however, with a table of contents, in order that one might not have to listen to a two hours' speech upon the tariff question in order to get at ten lines of a musical notice. But think what a musical critic might be able to do for his public! He might give them whole arias from an opera or movements from a symphony, by way of proof or illustration. The very tones of an actor's or singer's voice might be reproduced in the morning notice of last night's important dramatic or musical event.

Read the rest of Hubert's "The New Talking Machines."

Revisit more pieces from The Atlantic's archives with the Technology Channel.

Image: NYPL.