Reconstructing the Oldest Record in the World

09 Jan 2015

The person who came up with the idea of storing music on a rotating disc was Emile Berliner. Strangely, he stumbled on the idea when he was looking for a way to mass produce, something that had stymied the great American inventor.

But as the inventor of the rotating disc format, it stands to reason that in order to show how his new gramophone thingy worked, Berliner needed a record to play. So, in 1889, he made the first record himself, featuring him reciting the words of a German ballad. This was 1889.

But then that first record was lost or destroyed or otherwise misplaced and a vital piece of recorded music history was lost forever. Or was it?

Patrick Feaster at the University of Indiana found a picture of the recorded published in a German magazine from 1890. He was able to scan that picture and reproduced what was stored the grooves in 3D. And lo and behold, he was able to reconstruct that long-lost record. It’s kinda like what they did with dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park.

Hear what that record sounded like here. 

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