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Bell Speaks Again

Experimental recordings from 1880s heard

It’s no secret that Alexander Graham Bell experimented with many sound recording and reproduction devices. Some worked, some didn’t and some … well … it was just a matter of time before they worked; a long time.

The Library of Congress recently announced the availability of copies of a series of experimental recordings that Bell and associates Chichester Bell, Alexander’s cousin, and Charles Sumner Tainter did in the 1880s on discs.

The discs range from glass to wax on composition board. Light was used to encode information on the glass disc.

Until recently the technology was not available to properly play back the recordings. However with help from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its IRENE/3D sound recovery system, the recordings can now be heard.

The IRENE/3D system digitally scans the disc and with software algorithms is able to tease out relatively usable audio portions from the scanned data.

The recordings from six discs and data can be found here.