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article image1878 Edison voice recording unveiled

By Layne Weiss     Oct 26, 2012 in Science
The oldest playable recording of an American voice and first musical recording has been restored by a Berkeley lab research team in California. The recording was made in 1878 on a sheet of tin foil on a phonograph designed by Thomas Edison.
The 134 year old recording was restored when the research team created a 3D model of the channels in the foil, and ran it through a software that recreated the original track, Engadget reports.
The researchers were able to digitalize the recording without ruining the original piece of tin foil, The Telegraph reports.
Very few of the tinfoil sheets have survived, and only two are still playable, RT reports. The first was created in 1880 and is owned by the Henry Ford museum in Michigan. The second is the one from 1878 that was restored Thursday and now belongs to the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady, New York.
The 78 second scratchy recording begins with a cornet solo. Then a man is heard reciting "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Old Mother Hubbard," The AP reports.The man is heard laughing twice on the recording.
According to Engadget, it is believed the man on the recording is political writer Thomas Mason.
The recording was played Thursday night at the GE theater in Schenectady, New York, The AP reports. This is the city where Thomas Edison helped found the General Electric Co.
It was likely the first time the recording was played for the public since it was created in St. Louis in 1878.
Carl Haber, who led the research team in Berkeley said restoring the track "really completes a technology story, RT reports. "He [Thomas Edison] was on the right track from the get-go to record and play it back," Haber added.
"In the history of recorded sound that's still playable, this about as far back as we can go," said John Schneiter, a trustee at the Museum of Innovation and Science, The AP reports.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.
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