March 30th, 2008

Yote Button

French audio recording predates Edison's by 17 years

"Phonautogram" recordings of a French woman singing in 1860 were recently discovered in a French patent office, submitted by inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville.  The recordings were made on paper in soot from oil lamp smoke, but at the time, there was no way to play it back.  Audio historian David Giovannoni obtained digital scans of the phonautograms from the French Academy of Sciences and used a "virtual needle" to read and play the sound recorded in the images.  (The X-Files episode "Requiem" showed the same thing done to read sound waves theoretically recorded in a clay cup.)  The result was a woman's voice singing "Au Clair de la Lune," predating Thomas Edison's phonograph recording of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" by 17 years, making it the world's earliest known audio recording.
  • Current Mood
    impressed impressed