Patrick Feaster has been exploring recorded incunabula at the Smithsonian
and elsewhere for two years or more. The office of Carlene Stephens, the
curator of the Smithsonian's earliest recordings, was recently awarded a
Grammy Foundation grant to inventory their holdings. Perhaps her
application was prompted by Patrick's visits. In any case, here's an SI
post that includes audio samples.
On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM, David Lewis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> No, wait a minute! They are all down there right now, working on that
> collection! The writer didn't mention them. Who else would be doing this
> On another list, Dr. B. mentioned that at least the glass disc had been
> played for an ARSC Conference of many moons ago. So this is not the first
> time at least some of these things have been heard.
> I remember I posted a query to 78-L around 2001 asking specifically what
> happened to the Bell and Tainter wax, and why we still considered the
> Crystal Palace recordings the oldest in the world if such artifacts were
> around at all. I got a response from Allan Koenigsberg saying essentially
> yes, they ARE around, but there is no safe way to recover the sound. He
> also said he had at least one Bell & Tainter cylinder, but it was so tiny,
> dry and fragile he didn't dare try to play it with a conventional pickup.
> Dr. B did not mention the glass disc of "Barometer" at that time, though he
> remembers it now.
> Now that the sound on 1859-60 recordings of Scott de Martinville has been
> recovered, some may say the point is academic as to what is the world's
> oldest recording. I say it's more complicated than that -- we ought to know
> what is the earliest recoverable playback we can have that was also played
> back in its own time. For right now, the copper disc from 1881 seems to win
> that distinction, but we haven't tried to playback any historical tinfoil
> nor the telegraph signals that Edison recorded on a machine held at
> Greenfield Village that holds square copper "discs." So all of this
> research is still very much pending; it is great to see what it reveals,
> David "Uncle Dave" Lewis
> Lebanon, OH
> On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 11:48 AM, Dick Spottswood <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > The writer is ignorant of (or chooses to ignore) David Giovannoni,
> > Feaster and others who recovered and reproduced Leon Scott's 1850s
> > recordings.
> > Dick
> > [ARSCLIST] Alexander Graham Bell recordings played from 1880s
> > Rob DeLand
> > to:
> > ARSCLIST
> > 12/14/2011 11:33 AM
> > Sent by:
> > Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <
> [log in to unmask]>
> > Please respond to Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> > I don't recall this being discussed here - it's not clear to me exactly
> > why
> > these discs were not playable - soft wax?
> > -Rob
> > WASHINGTON (AP) ? Alexander Graham Bell foresaw many things, including
> > that
> > people could someday talk over a telephone. Yet the inventor certainly
> > never could have anticipated that his audio-recording experiments in a
> > Washington, D.C., lab could be recovered 130 years later and played for a
> > gathering of scientists, curators and journalists.
> > "To be or not to be..." a man's voice can be heard saying in one
> > recordingas it was played on a computer at the Library
> > of Congress on Tuesday. The speaker from the 1880s recites a portion of
> > Hamlet's Soliloquy as a green wax disc crackles to life from computer
> > speakers.
> > The early audio recordings ? which revealed recitations of Shakespeare,
> > numbers and other familiar lines ? had been packed away and deemed
> > obsolete
> > at the Smithsonian Institution for more than a century. But new
> > has allowed them to be recovered and played.
> > The technology reads the sound from tiny grooves with light and a 3D
> > camera. ...
> > Many of the recordings are fragile, and until recently it had not been
> > possible to listen to them without damaging the discs or cylinders.
> > So far, the sounds of six discs have been successfully recovered through
> > the process, which creates a high-resolution digital map of the disc or
> > cylinder. The map is processed to remove scratches and skips, and
> > reproduces the audio content to create a standard digital sound file.