World's oldest voice recording goes online

28th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

The 10-second recording was made by a Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on April 9 1860, when Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, was on the throne.

   PARIS, March 28, 2008 (AFP) - It's no-one's idea of great music -- to some,
it may sound like a dolphin with tonsilitis -- but the ghostly warbling of a
French folk song nearly 148 years ago comprises the oldest recording of the
human voice, France's Academy of Sciences says.
   The 10-second recording was made by a Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on April 9 1860, when Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, was on the throne.
   It was made a whole 17 years before Thomas Edison made his historic
message, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on a phonograph, which is the landmark event in the history of recorded sound.
   Scott de Martinville's gadget, a "phonautograph", was a device that
scratched sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke from an oil lamp.
   Unlike Edison, whose great achievement was to not only record but also play
back the recording, Scott de Martinville was never able to hear what was
traced on the smoked paper.
   It took 21st-century technology and the diligence of a team of US audio
historians, recording engineers and scientists, using digital imaging to track
the tiny groove in the paper, to make his dream come true.
   The initiative was supported by First Sounds, a collaborative US project
aimed at resurrecting long-lost early recordings.
   The recording, comprising a snippet of the song "Au clair de la lune," can
be heard in MP3 format on (http://www.firstsounds.org/sounds/index.php).
   Edison's breakthrough, in 1877, was based on tinfoil wrapped around a
cylinder. The foil was indented by a stylus which moved in response to
vibrations from a mouthpiece. His first recording was the initial words of a
nursery rhyme.

AFP 

0 Comments To This Article