The wax phonograph cylinder invented by Thomas Edison in 1885 was the medium for recording sound until about 1930. In around 1900, using the Edison-type phonograph, a Polish anthropologist (B. Pilsudski) recorded the songs of the Ainu people in the most northern Japan on 65 wax cylinders. The wax cylinders were accidentally discovered in Poland and we were asked to reproduce them in 1984. Most of them, however, changed in quality by re-crystallization and had many cracks on their surfaces. The Pilsudski's wax cylinders were successfully reproduced by using a laser-beam reflection as well as a light stylus which we developed.
Although a lot of wax cylinders, which may be historically valuable, have been preserved all over the world, most of them would change in quality like the Pilsudski.s wax cylinders. We have developed a portable record player having both laser-beam reflection and light stylus methods. Our record player is light and small enough to be carried by a hand and it can reproduce sounds in real time from damaged wax cylinders as well as the undamaged. The portable record player is commercially available in Japan.
Bibliographic reference. Ifukube, Tohru / Shimizu, Yasuyuki (2007): "A portable record player for wax cylinders using a laser-beam reflection method", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 4020.