By the 1890s, phonograph machines became common in public places, and were found in American cities at county fairs, public halls, saloons, and department stores. In many places, such as bars and taverns, patrons could place money into a coin slot and choose a recording to listen to, like a jukebox. Some establishments began placing cylinders of a sexually explicit nature into their machines during this decade, and local authorities often took steps to remove the cylinders from use and charge those responsible under indecency statutes. In New York City, Anthony Comstock and his Society for the Suppression of Vice spent several years investigating cases of indecent material in phonograph booths throughout the city. In 1899, Comstock succeeded in pushing through a statute specifically criminalizing the distribution and airing, public or private, of recorded material which used profanity or sexually explicit language; as a result, most of those in the business of making such records ceased to do so after 1900.
In addition to commercial recordings, the advent of home recording also allowed for the creation of obscene or sexually explicit recordings. Such machines were available by the 1890s, and the ability to use the machine to record such material was actually used as a selling point by some purveyors of home recording machines.
Read more about this topic: Actionable Offenses: Indecent Phonograph Recordings From The 1890s
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