The mystery of the recordings of human voices made three decades before those of Thomas Edison

  • By Dalia Ventura
  • BBC World News

Photo credit, Getty Images

Image caption,

For 120 years, it was believed that Edison was the first to record the human voice.

For 120 years, an uncontroversial truth has prevailed: Thomas Alva Edison was the first person to record the human voice.

Inventor, among others, of the electric bulb and the cinematographic camera, he had managed in 1888 to make these recordings with another of his creations, the wax cylinder phonograph, and witnesses of the feat were numerous, including including those attending a concert he had recorded at the Handel Festival at Crystal Palace, London.

However, more than a century later, two members of the First Sounds Initiative – a collective that “strives to make humanity’s earliest sound recordings available to all people of all time” – began to suspect the existence of another reality.

Their surprising discoveries helped rewrite history … twice in 2008.


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