We Discovered What Alexander Graham Bell’s Voice Sounded Like, And This Is Freaking Awesome! Gina Vaynshteyn

Alexander Graham Bell, innovative scientist and inventor of the telephone, left behind some materials including some of the first recordings. Between 1880 and 1886, Bell began working on recording sound, conducting experiments on embossed foil and testing material such as wax, glass, paper and cardboard and then listening to what he created on these very DIY discs or cylinders. These discs, owned by the Smithsonian, were deemed inactive, silent artifacts… until now.

So basically, scientists used a micro camera and pointed it at the ancient grooves of the disc to get a 3D image of what exactly was recorded, and this was digitally transferred on to a computer.  Now we are able to listen to one of the very first recordings (around 150 years old), and it won’t be long before someone makes a really annoying YouTube re-mix of Alexander Graham Bell’s voice. But that’s another story.

Early Recordings Bell.JPEG-03195

This disc, even though it looks like a cd that’s been tossed in a pool, is around 150 years old.

So, why is this so important, you may be thinking to yourself?  Well, for one, Bell is one of the most important innovators in history. To physically have his first attempts and trials at recording sound is one thing, but to finally be able to play these recordings is an amazing example of how cool science and history is. Second, haven’t you ever wanted to hear what a person sounded like over a hundred years ago? We really never have, up until this point, we’ve just had Keira Knightley’s prim British accent in like every based-off-history movie to work with. This is the real deal, guys!

Click here to watch a video to hear a displeased Alexander Graham Bell as he experiments with recording sound.

Featured image via Slate

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  1. That’s amazing. Even though those ‘voices’ sound more like aliens from the Mars Attack movie but that is a great discovery. And those ‘discs’ where kind of impossible to read or listen! What is more surprising is that the further we go towards developing new technologies for the future the further we go backwards in time to discover new things about the past. My english is pretty bad but hopefully you guys understand :D

  2. I have trouble hearing clearly, so I wish he’d translated what Bell had said, because now I must know! But how cool is that, and where did I put my earbuds? I had worked for a little while at an archaeological center, and getting to see pieces of our history up close is so exciting. If you ever have a chance to go to the Smithsonian Museums, do it! The only thing disappointing about them is not having enough time to take everything in. Thank you for sharing this with us, Gina!

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