We can now listen to audio recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell 130 years ago. These audio recordings were stored at the Smithsonian Institution for over a century and were thought to be obsolete, but no longer. New technology has been used to recover the recordings so that they can be heard.
Scientists used high-resolution scans through IRENE/3D, a sound recovery process, to hear the 130-year-old recordings. This process grabs digital maps of the surface of the media, without contact, and then uses image analysis methods to recover the audio data and reduce noise.
A man’s voice in one recording on a green wax disc is reading “to be or not to be…” from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Another recording from a copper negative disc has someone reading out numbers starting from one. These recordings, which also include about 200 other experimental records, date back to the 1880s. The Smithsonian acquired them when Bell and other inventors left the recordings and documentation with them in order to help prove that their innovations came first.
Read more details and listen to the recordings at the Smithsonian Newsdesk.