Discovering—and Preserving—the Earliest Known Stereo Recordings
September 13, 2020 7:31 AM   Subscribe

In 1901, German anthropologist Berthold Laufer used two wax cylinder recorders simultaneously to record Shanghai musicians, unintentionally creating the earliest-known stereo recordings. gives an overview of Indiana University's recent work in digitizing and restoring anthropological recordings made in the very early 20th century for the American Museum of Natural History. Much greater context and detail - along with some examples of the newly restored material - are available at IU restoration specialist Patrick Feaster's blog.
posted by soundguy99 (2 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Patrick Feaster's blog is fascinating, describing the history of these recordings, and the complicated process of re-creating stereo, or "paleostereophony."

Here's an album of later "accidental stereo" recordings (review/ information; sample/ buy the recordings), where classical performances were recorded by two separate devices and later aligned for a "new" stereo recording.

Accidental stereo recordings search on YouTube, more of these paired mono recordings.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:24 AM on September 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Intentional stereo, SFAIK, began with a 1931 patent application by Alan Blumlein.

Early stereo recordings restored
"Unique recordings ... include Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) at Abbey Road Studios in 1934...." made by Blumlein.

Nearly forgotten today, techy Blumlein went on a patenting frenzy in the 1920s til 1940 (see the Turing site) ...working with moving-coil wax cutting (electronic recording), computers, oscillators, antennas, television, etc. He was testing a radar in a plane when it went down over Wales in 1942.

History of binauralThe Audio Patents
posted by Twang at 6:10 PM on September 13, 2020

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