On Feb. 19, 1878, the American inventor Thomas A. Edison was awarded a patent for the phonograph. The phonograph was the first machine that was able to mechanically reproduce sound. Edison’s invention made him one of the most famous Americans alive. It also helped launch the multibillion-dollar music industry.Edison’s invention came about as spin-off from his ongoing work in telephony and telegraphy. His phonograph, also called a gramophone in its earlier forms, originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet wrapped around a rotating cylinder.