Skip to main content

Commonplace Comments

March 2023
1min read

In your article about Margaret Woodbury Strong’s museum, there is an error in a piclure caption: the “tin” (i.e., steel) horn is sprouting not from a Gramophone bul from a phonograph. The word phonograph , originally an Kdison trademark, was adopted by the public as a generic term for cylinder record players, and eventually ( in the United States ) for all record players, regardless of the shape of the records they played. Because of the Kdison trademark, competing companies had to invent their own names, such as Graphophone (Columbia) or Talking Machine (Victor), to describe what il was they were selling. Gramophone was a trademark owned originally by F.mile Berliner, who developed the flat disk record, and the name came to be used in this country shortly before the turn of the century to designate any disk (but not cylinder) record player. Conversely, because of variations in the patent situations, in most other countries Gramophone became the generic term for all record players, while phonograph retained its earlier connotation of a cylinder machine.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "December 1986"

Authored by: John A. Garraty

This is not a test. It’s the real thing.

When Elsie Parrish was fired, her fight for justice led to dramatic changes in the nation’s highest court.

Authored by: Bethany Ewald Bultman

New Orleans cuisine—with its French roux, African okra, Indian filé, and Spanish peppers—is literally a gastronomic melting pot. Here’s how it all came together.

Authored by: Henry I. Kurtz

Fifty years ago these rough-and-ready tin soldiers were sold from bins cheap and by the handful. Today collectors are seeking them for their bright, simple vitality.

Authored by: Peter Baida

It began early. It’s not going away. It’s about a lot more than payoffs and ward politics.
And it’s about a lot more than New York.

Authored by: Ronald H. Spector

Historians have failed to help Americans understand what the war was all about. So charges this scholar, author, and Vietnam veteran.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.