Digital imaging is allowing scientists to listen to test recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory for the first time since the 1880s. After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Bell was one of the competitors in the race to make the technology commercially viable, and sent several boxes of recordings to the Smithsonian Institute to guard against patent challenges (yes, even back then). Without an accompanying playback device, they'd since lain dormant. As part of a program between the Library of Congress and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, scientists Carl Haber and Earl Cornell were able to take high-resolution scans of the wax and glass test discs — up to 18,000 per rotation — and use the images to create playable digital models. A rendition of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and a reading from Hamlet are amongst the tests, with the team thus far rendering only six of the almost 200 Bell recordings in the Smithsonian vaults. Head over to CNN's report to hear them for yourself.
Early Alexander Graham Bell recording tests get a digital listen
Scientists are using digital imaging to listen to audio test recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory in the 1880s.