Saturday, March 29, 2008

A voice from the distant past

Thomas Edison is credited, rightfully, with inventing the first system to record sounds and play them back. It now turns out, though, that the history of recording the human voice dates back to a time before the U.S. Civil War. French researchers have uncovered a perfectly preserved sheet of paper marked by a "phonautograph" on August 9, 1860. The invention represented sound waves as markings traced on a sheet of paper smoked dark by an oil lamp. Ten seconds of a French folk song lay awaiting modern technology that could reconstruct the sound.

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