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What turntables are

What they are

The phonograph, or gramophone, was the most common device for playing recorded sound from the 1870s through the 1980s. In more modern usage, this device is often called a turntable, record player, or record changer. Usage of these terms is somewhat different in American English and British English. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the alternative term talking machine was sometimes used. The phonograph was the first device for recording and replaying sound.

The term phonograph meaning sound writer, is derived from the Greek words phone (meaning sound or voice and transliterated as phone) and graphe (meaning writing or Scripture and transliterated as graphe). Similar related terms gramophone and graphophone have similar root meanings. The coinage, particularly the use of the graph root, may have been influenced by the then-existing words phonographic and phonography, which referred to a system of phonetic shorthand; in 1852 the New York Times carried an advertisement for Professor Webster's phonographic class, and in 1859 the New York State Teachers' Association tabled a motion to employ a phonographic recorder to record its meetings.

Arguably, any device used to record sound or reproduce recorded sound could be called a type of phonograph, but in common practice it has come to mean historic technologies of sound recording.