Creepy audio from the 19th century

phonautogram

Credit: firstsounds.org

This 1860 phonautogram by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville is the first known sound recording with a human voice.


Sounds a little scary. But when he recorded his phonautograms, he didn’t expect that once they would be played back, because the phonograph was only invented in 1877, by Thomas Edison. He created visual images of the sound with a phonautograph, that he built mimicing the human auditory system – substituting an elastic membrane for the tympanum, a series of levers for the ossicle, which moved a stylus he proposed would press on a paper, wood, or glass surface covered in lampblack.

Read more about his method and the restoration process on First Sounds.

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