Mechanical Music Through the Ages

A collection of Mechanical Music and Arcade Machines – highlighting examples of the development in mechanical entertainment over time.

The Pathe “Actuelle” 1920 – (France)

The Pathé record business was founded by brothers Charles and Émile Pathé, owners of a successful bistro in Paris. In the mid-1890s they began selling Edison and Columbia phonographs and accompanying cylinder records. Shortly thereafter, the brothers designed and sold their own phonographs. These incorporated elements of other brands.

By 1896 the Pathé brothers had offices and recording studios not only in Paris, but also in London, Milan, and Moscow.

The Actuelle (which stands for “Up to Date”), is a table top model and has the interesting feature of being able to play Pathe style disc records and with a rotation of the reproducer arm, can also play laterally cut discs. The other interesting feature is the projection of sound via a large paper cone diaphragm rather than a horn and conventional reproducing head. The cone was quite fragile and often damaged , but when in good condition, gave very loud and clear reproduction.