Alexander Graham Bell : Smithsonian researchers used optical technology to play back the unplayable records

Audio of the famous inventor speaking was discovered on June 20, 2012.

Today, however, a dramatic application of digital technology has allowed researchers to recover Bell’s voice from a recording held by the Smithsonian—a breakthrough announced here for the first time.

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“Tones from out of Nowhere”: Rudolph Pfenninger and the Archaeology of Synthetic Sound (PDF)

In this essay from New Media, Old Media [2006], (originally published in Grey Room) Levin proposes an alternative history that takes into account underexamined developments in synthetic sound reproduction. While contemporary accounts of new media make it sound like threats to “real” or indexical sound only come with digitization, Levin explores well-documented events in the history of sythentic or “hand-written” sound by analog means.

Press Here To Download The PDF: Tones From Nowhere


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Optical Imaging Study of the 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil Recording

This site provides information about the digital restoration of an Edison tinfoil record which dates from 1878.  The restoration was done as part of a larger project to restore, preserve, and create digital access to sound recordings using non-invasive optical methods.   This project is a collaboration between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Library of Congress.

Press Here To Enter The Site: 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil Recording

Original Tinfoil

Complete Scanning System

Detail Of Scanning Device

Complete Recording