October 23, 2014

Early Sound Recordings by Alexander Graham Bell in 1880s Played Back With New Technology

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UPDATE: You can now listen to the recordings online via the Library of Congress.
Direct to Recordings ||| Additional Info via Library of Congress

The team has successfully submitted six discs—all experimental recordings made by Volta—to the sound recovery process known as IRENE/3D (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), a process developed by Berkeley Lab in 2003-04 and installed at the Library of Congress in 2006 and in 2008.

From the AP (via the Washington Post):

Early sound recordings by Alexander Graham Bell that were packed away at the Smithsonian Institution for more than a century were played publicly for the first time Tuesday using new technology that reads the sound with light and a 3D camera.

“To be, or not to be…” a man’s voice can be heard saying in one recording, the speaker reciting a portion of Hamlet’s Soliloquy as a green wax disc crackles to life from computer speakers. Another recording on a copper negative disc that was played back at the Library of Congress reveals a trill of the tongue and someone reciting the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6.

[Clip]

The Library of Congress partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, to offer a first listening session of these early recordings Tuesday. Scientists have spent the past 10 years and about $1 million to develop the technology to create high-resolution digital scans of the sound discs.

This year, scholars from the Library of Congress, the Berkeley Lab and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History gathered in a new preservation lab at the Library of Congress to recover sound from those early recordings. A $600,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences funded the pilot project.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Sound Reproduction R & D Home Page at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.