Phonograph cylinders are the earliest commercial medium for recording and reproducing sound. Commonly known simply as "records" in their heyday (c. 1896–1916), these hollow cylindrical objects have an audio recording engraved on the outside surface, which can be reproduced when they are played on a mechanical cylinder phonograph. In the 1910s, the competing disc record system triumphed in the marketplace to become the dominant commercial audio medium.
In December 1877, Thomas Edison and his team invented the phonograph using a thin sheet of tin foil wrapped around a hand-cranked, grooved metal cylinder. Tin foil was not a practical recording medium for either commercial or artistic purposes, and the crude hand-cranked phonograph was only marketed as a novelty, to little or no profit. Edison moved on to developing a practical incandescent electric light, and the next improvements to sound recording technology were made by others.