Thursday, March 27, 2008

Edison Has Been Had

I was checking the New York Times website, as I do from time to time, and I saw an article on the front page about a group of french researchers who discovered a sound recording predating Thomas Edison's by seventeen years.  Having taken a number of intro-level communications at Fordham University I know that news like this is sure to rouse the life back into the true history buffs that roam the halls of the Communications fortress: Faculty Memorial Hall. 

Apparently this wasn't truly a sound recording, or at least that is the way I understood it. Rather, the short ten second clip of a French man singing a baguette-fueled melody was written down on a piece of paper and converted (thanks to American phonoautogrammers!!) at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in Berkley, California into sound mapping out the carefully sketched "phonoautogram." The paper dates back to 1860, a full seventeen years before Thomas Edison's sweet, sweet tunes erupted from his phonoGRAPH in gorgeous New Jersey. 

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. has claimed the caregiving rights to the historical piece of sound, furthering my personal belief that people in America still care about sound more than everyone. Americans were the ones who found this groundbreaking phonoautogram. . . . in France!! We've got a definite interest, and for that reason I posted this tasty morsel. 

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

Interesting post. I wonder how this compares to the Visible Speech method of notation for sound that was developed by Alexander Melville Bell, the father of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. And of course it relates to our class--according to McLuhan, electronic media put us back into acoustic space.