The Voice of Alexander Graham Bell

According to The Verge, new data-retrieval techniques have enabled researchers to play a wax disc recorded by Alexander Graham Bell on 15 April 1885, and previously deemed “uplayable”. Not only was the wax disc, which had been donated to the Smithsonian by Bell himself, heavily damaged, there was also no indication of what kind of device could play it back. However, by dint of taking high-resolution images of the disc and then using computer analysis to rebuild damaged areas, Bell’s voice can be heard clearly. He spends most of his time reciting numbers, but provides an audio “signature” at the end of the recording.

transcript

 

Bell’s transcript of the recording

The recording itself, with captions.

An intriguing bit of history.

The Old Wolf has spoken (but not as well as Alexander Graham Bell.)

3 responses to “The Voice of Alexander Graham Bell

  1. He sounds like all those stuffy people in old movies—like Margaret Dumont, in fact. I always thought that the way they spoke was because of the affectations one used on stage. Maybe not!

  2. Anyone knowingly making a recording of their voice is going to pay particular attention to their diction and phrasing. Alexander was just the first of many.

    The Verge article didn’t hint at how it was recorded either – The Victrola used vertical modulation, it wasn’t till the Stereo LP that they started using horizontal motion – and then they had the XY axis from the sides to get separate Left and Right channels.

    But once you have that down, they have perfected the Laser Turntable. You have $10,000 to spend and they’ll play back most any record almost perfectly, with no chance of making it any worse.,

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