Joho the Blog » edison

July 7, 2011

1888 talking doll speaks again…by Science!

The National Park Service site has a fascinating article about the discovery of a very early talking doll made by Thomas Alva Edison. This was apparently the first commercially-available phonograph recording ever.

The artifact is a ring-shaped cylinder phonograph record made of solid metal, preserved by the National Park Service at Thomas Edison National Historical Park. Phonograph inventor Thomas Edison made the record during the fall or winter of 1888 in West Orange, New Jersey. On the recording, an unidentified woman recites one verse of the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”. The voice captured on the 123-year-old record had been unheard since Edison’s lifetime. The recording represents a significant milestone in the early history of recorded sound technology.

To “play” the recording, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did a 3D scan of the grooves and reproduced the sound without having to touch the physical material.

Each phonograph was made live, rather than reproduced from a master, which adds just a little more of thrill to listening to it. You can hear the recording here.

[Tip of the hat to my brother Andy for the link. And see the excellent article in Science magazine.]

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