The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 as a revolutionary device to not only record sound, but play it back. Since then, obviously, new music media has become more prevalent (CDs, etc.) and understandably - but a recent "retro" movement has increased the popularity of this seemingly dated form of listening to music.
Newer record players are obviously different from the original phonograph, but the components and main concept remains the same. Starting with the record:
A master recording is perfected in a studio. Then, a lacquer (disc) is placed on a record-cutting machine. As the disc rotates, electric signals are sent from the master recording to a cutter head, where a needle etches grooves into it. The lacquer is coated with metal to create the "mother" record. This mother is then used to create stampers, which finally are used to create the actual vinyl record.
Now how is the record played back? Well, a stylus (the needle) is located on the end of the tone arm. As the record rotates, the stylus, which touches the disc, picks up vibrations from the record. These vibrations travel through a metal strip and wires inside of the tone arm, where it reaches the cartridge at the end of the arm. This cartridge converts vibrations into electrical signals. Electrical signals are carried to the amplifier (which enhances the signal), and finally, the signal is converted into sound which obviously, comes out the speaker.
For the first music playback device ever invented, it is extremely involved and consists of several vital components. And although plenty more efficient methods of playback have been invented, some people insist that vinyl is the way of listening to music how it was meant to be heard. And others still view these people as "hipsters" - but regardless, it is an extremely interesting machine, and creates a very enticing atmosphere wherever it is played.