ELI5: Explain Like I'm 5


A phonograph is a machine that plays music. It was invented a very long time ago before phones, TVs, or even computers. It looks like a tall, wooden box with a horn on the top. Inside the box is a cylinder (like a can) made of wax or wax and cardboard with grooves cut into its surface. Those grooves are like the tiny grooves in a vinyl record, but much bigger.

When you put a needle on the cylinder and at the right speed, the needle will make the wax (or wax and cardboard) vibrate and make sound. That sound is the music that was recorded in the grooves. This is how people used to listen to music way back when!