Sunday, March 17, 2013

First Sound Recording

Scott's Phonautograph 1860
What is odd about history is that certain people end up being famous throughout the ages for accomplishments, whereas others are soon forgotten. If you were asked who recorded the first voice, most people would reply 'Thomas Edison'. 

But Thomas Edison was not the first scientist to record a human voice. The first voice recording, in fact, was made in 1860 by a Frenchman named Edouard-Leon Scott de la Martinville. This was almost two decades before Edison's recordings. 

I think what distinguishes Edison from others was that he was a keen businessman and a promoter as well as a genius inventor. He was also an American, which may have made a difference as well. Americans believe in enterprise and entrepreneurship, as my French friend Claire once said to me. Edison's time was also a time of rapid advancement and mass production of goods. Most of Edison's inventions were very successful ventures. 

Here is a version of Edouard-Leon Scott de la Martinville's recording of a girl singing "Au Clair De La Lune." I like this version because of the later digital enhancement of the voice.

Edison's Graphophone 1899
Edison's first recording was on the phonograph in 1877, of Edison reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb." 

Edison was the most successful inventor to not only record but reproduce sound.  Later versions of the phonograph were perfected and honed.

1 comment:

Velva said...

This is cool!