Early Sound Recordings by Alexander Graham Bell in 1880s Played Back With New Technology

Posted on December 13, 2011 by


UPDATE: You can now listen to the recordings online via the Library of Congress.
Direct to Recordings ||| Additional Info via Library of Congress

The team has successfully submitted six discs—all experimental recordings made by Volta—to the sound recovery process known as IRENE/3D (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), a process developed by Berkeley Lab in 2003-04 and installed at the Library of Congress in 2006 and in 2008.

From the AP (via the Washington Post):

Early sound recordings by Alexander Graham Bell that were packed away at the Smithsonian Institution for more than a century were played publicly for the first time Tuesday using new technology that reads the sound with light and a 3D camera.

“To be, or not to be…” a man’s voice can be heard saying in one recording, the speaker reciting a portion of Hamlet’s Soliloquy as a green wax disc crackles to life from computer speakers. Another recording on a copper negative disc that was played back at the Library of Congress reveals a trill of the tongue and someone reciting the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6.

[Clip]

The Library of Congress partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, to offer a first listening session of these early recordings Tuesday. Scientists have spent the past 10 years and about $1 million to develop the technology to create high-resolution digital scans of the sound discs.

This year, scholars from the Library of Congress, the Berkeley Lab and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History gathered in a new preservation lab at the Library of Congress to recover sound from those early recordings. A $600,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences funded the pilot project.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Sound Reproduction R & D Home Page at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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