Earliest Audio Recording Resurrected, Scares the Genitals Off Us

Audio historian David Giovannoni and scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered and brought back to life the first audio recording ever made, 17 years before Edison's patent. The ten-second snippet was made on a phonoautograph, a device that only recorded sounds but didn't play them back, so they had to do some voodoo to resurrect it and play it back. And after you hear it, you will agree on the voodoo part.

The audio recording, a verse of "Au Clair de la Lune" sung by a woman/zombie/spirit/ghostard, was made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. Scott was a Parisian typesetter and inventor who invented the phonoautograph, and died thinking Edison stole his idea for recording sound (just like he stole and ran Méliès out of the movie business).

However, while the fact is that Edison stole many things, this is not one of them, according to Giovannoni: "Edison is not diminished whatsoever by this discovery." Another scholar, Paul Israel, director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University remarked that "what made Edison different from Scott was that he was trying to reproduce sound and he succeeded."

The phonoautograph is a device that only prints the sound it captures, but it can't reproduce it. Giovannoni and his team had to digitally process the recording, made on April 9, 1860, to create the version you can listen to here. [NYT]

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