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Arts & Culture

History Detectives

Did Thomas Edison make a machine to unlock the secrets of the dead? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwendolyn Wright sets out to learn who made the PsychoPhone (pictured) and why.
Morgan Beatty
Did Thomas Edison make a machine to unlock the secrets of the dead? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwendolyn Wright sets out to learn who made the PsychoPhone (pictured) and why.

Airs Monday, June 22, 2009 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

A couple in Cincinnati acquired a peculiar phonograph at an antiques auction. The machine, labeled “PsychoPhone,” included four grooved wax cylinders. The contributors think Thomas Edison invented the PsychoPhone to record messages from the afterlife. As early as the 1870s, Edison and other scientific minds explored psychic phenomena, believing every living being was made of atoms that could “remember” past lives. Did Edison make a machine to unlock the secrets of the dead? "History Detectives" host Gwendolyn Wright travels to the Thomas A. Edison Menlo Park museum in New Jersey to find out. Watch an interview with Gwen Wright and explore more cases online.