The First Recorded Sound: Sort Of

25 Dec 2014

While Thomas Edison was the first person to figure out how to capture sound for later playback with his phonograph in 1877, he wasn’t the first person to document sound in a physical form.

In 1857, a French inventor named Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville created a device called the phonoautograph.  A steel needle was connected to a sound-sensitive diaphragm which caused the needle to vibrate.  As the needle moved, it etched representations of soundwaves onto parchment paper that was coated with lampblack.


It wasn’t until 2008 that engineers were able to reconvert that waveform into actual sound.  Now we can hear de Martinville’s daughter sing a song called “Au Clair de la Lune.”

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