It’s not often you get to hear with the 19th century sounded like, but thanks to 3D scanning and old wax cylinders, it’s possible. And now, for the very first time, we know what Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the all-important telephone, might have sounded like when he made that historic call.
Recordings of sound from as far back as the 1860 have survived the test of time, but the issue has always been finding a way to play them. Many wax cylinders that old are too delicate to risk playing. In Bell’s case, there were plenty of recordings, but nearly all were made on his fledgling inventions, methods of playback lost to time.
Only now, through the use of 3D scanning and good old-fashioned detective work, have researchers been able to figure out how to read Bell’s recordings. And as luck would have it, one cardboard disc from 1885 contains his voice. Unfortunately it’s not something as momentous as the first telephone call, but instead a simple introduction: “Hear my voice — Alexander Graham Bell.” But from over a hundred years in the past, saying anything is impressive.