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Usage of terminology is not uniform across the English-speaking world (see below). In more modern usage, the playback device is often called a "turntable," "record player," or "record changer." When used in conjunction with a mixer as part of a DJ setup, turntables are often called "decks."
The term phonograph ("sound writing") was derived from the Greek words φωνή ("sound" or "voice" and transliterated as phonē) and γραφή (meaning "writing" and transliterated as graphē). The similar related terms gramophone (from the Greek γράμμα, gramma, "letter" and φωνή, phōnē, "voice") and graphophone have similar root meanings. The roots were already familiar from existing 19th-century words such as photograph ("light writing"), telegraph ("distant writing"), and telephone ("distant sound"). The new term may have been influenced by the 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 the word has come to mean historic technologies of sound recording, involving audio-frequency modulations of a physical trace or groove.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, "Phonograph," "Gramophone," "Graphophone," "Zonophone" and the like were still brand names specific to various makers of sometimes very different (i.e., cylinder and disc) machines; so considerable use was made of the generic term "talking machine," especially in print. "Talking machine" had earlier been used to refer to complicated devices which produced a crude imitation of speech, by simulating the workings of the vocal cords, tongue, and lips – a potential source of confusion both then and now.
In British English, "gramophone" may refer to any sound-reproducing machine using disc records, which were introduced and popularized in the UK by the Gramophone Company. Originally, "gramophone" was a proprietary trademark of that company and any use of the name by competing makers of disc records was vigorously prosecuted in the courts, but in 1910 an English court decision decreed that it had become a generic term; it has been so used in the UK and most Commonwealth countries ever since. The term "phonograph" was usually restricted to machines that used cylinder records.
"Gramophone" generally referred to a wind-up machine. After the introduction of the softer vinyl records, 33 1⁄3-rpm LPs (long-playing records) and 45-rpm "single" or two-song records, and EPs (extended-play recordings), the common name became "record player" or "turntable." Often the home record player was part of a system that included a radio (radiogram) and, later, might also play audiotape cassettes. From about 1960, such a system began to be described as a "hi-fi" (high-fidelity, monophonic) or a "stereo" (most systems being stereophonic by the mid-1960s).
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