Back in the 1920s, long before modern gadgets took over our daily lives, a nifty little invention brought music to people’s pockets.
This wonder of the past was called the Mikiphone, a pocket-sized phonograph that let you carry your favorite tunes wherever you went.
The Mikiphone, a portable phonograph small enough to fit in one’s pocket, was the brainchild of Hungarian siblings Miklós and Étienne Vadász.
It entered mass production under a licensing agreement with Maison Paillard, based in Saint Croix, Switzerland.
Maison Paillard, which traces its origins to a group of local watchmakers coming together in 1814, initially delved into crafting music boxes around 1860.
As the 19th century drew to a close, the company expanded its offerings to include cylinder phonographs and made a full transition to disc gramophones by 1905. Notably, in 1913, Paillard introduced an electric AC gramophone motor.
From 1927 onward, the company expanded its portfolio to include electric amplifiers for gramophones and later ventured into radio equipment production.
Amidst these milestones, Maison Paillard manufactured approximately 180,000 units of the Vadász brothers’ Mikiphones.
In contrast to today’s modern music devices, the Mikiphone operated without batteries, instead relying on a hand-crank for power. Its sound was amplified through a resonator.
At first glance, the closed Mikiphone appears quite compact, easily fitting inside a purse.
However, it requires some assembly, with its components stored within the case, which, when shut, measures just 11.5 cm in diameter and 4.7 cm in thickness.
The recording head and a two-piece Bakelite resonator had to be connected to the foldout tone arm before the shellac disc could be placed on the turntable’s central pin.
This precision engineering feat was awarded first prize at an international music exhibition in Geneva in 1927.
When fully assembled, the Mikiphone takes up a considerable amount of room and it was primarily designed to play 10-inch records.
This made it more of an entertainment device suitable for gatherings rather than a portable companion for your everyday errands.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Museum für Gestaltung Zürich).