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The oldest known recording of American voice has been restored and replayed for the first time in over 100 years. Dating to June 22, 1878, the recording was made for an early Edison phonograph on tin foil which had become too fragile and torn to play back. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory optically scanned the foil and developed a program to replay it digitally. [more inside]
posted by Esteemed Offendi on Oct 25, 2012 - 29 comments

Listening to the past, recorded on tin foil and glass, for the first time in over a century

Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 10, 2012 - 21 comments

123-year-old recording of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, recited it with feeling and expression

The Phonograph Doll was the first attempt at making a talking doll, invented by Thomas Edison. The doll utilized a miniature phonograph to talk, and was possibly the first audio recordings for commercial purposes. An example of the (now 123 year-old) talking doll was found in 1967 in Edison's New Jersey workshop, which is now a National Historic Park and museum. Recently, the warped metal cylinder was optically scanned and re-created, providing a 12-second clip of the oldest known recording of a woman's voice. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 8, 2011 - 22 comments

The first ever field recording.

Nearly 122 years ago, The first field recording was made. In the Crystal Palace, London, 4000 voices were recorded singing Handel's Israel In Egypt. [more inside]
posted by idiopath on Jun 26, 2010 - 44 comments

Oscar Wilde's Voice

"What you are now going to hear is a recording of the actual voice of Oscar Wilde ..." [more inside]
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Jun 2, 2010 - 25 comments

Oldest recorded voice

Last year we discussed a recently discovered 10-second audio recording from 1860 that was thought to be the oldest known recorded human voice, a girl or woman singing the 18th century French folk song “Au Clair de la Lune”. Turns out, it was being played too fast - slow it down and it's the voice of the inventor himself. As well, a number of other recordings have been found, pushing back the oldest recording to 1857. Hear it all on NPR (5-min). [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jun 1, 2009 - 24 comments

Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison See also Phonoautograph

Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison
The Phonoautograph
The history of the Phonoautograph. A technology in which you can still buy stock.
posted by y2karl on Mar 27, 2008 - 34 comments

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