If aliens visited the Earth, they might find our obsession with music hard to fathom. We have music in our homes, our cars, and our elevators. Musical performances draw huge crowds and create enormous fame for a select few musicians. These days, your music player of choice is probably the phone in your pocket. What our grandparents wouldn’t have done to have a pocket-sized music player. Wait…, it turns out they had them. [Rare Historical Photos] has pictures and other material related to the Mikiphone — a “pocket phonograph.” We don’t know how it sounded, but it is a fantastic piece of work visually. Actually, thanks to the [Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound], you can hear one of these rare machines playing in the video below. If only it were playing Toni Basil.
The device was made in the 1920s and had a decidedly strange tonearm. You wind it up with a gigantic key mechanism. There’s no electricity. A bakelite resonator became the speaker attached to the tone arm. The device was made in Switzerland by a company that started in music boxes. However, the design was the work of two brothers named Vadász.
Apparently, there were between 100,000 and 180,000 Mikiphones produced. The case is 11.5 cm in diameter and less than 5 cm thick. While the device could be transported in your pocket, it did require you to assemble it before it would play. So, this was less of a Walkman and more of a boom box for its time. If you can’t visualize how it all fits in the case, check out the second video, below, from [Columbia].