Phonautograph, 19th century

Phonautograph, 19th century

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Caption: Phonautograph. 19th-century illustration of the phonautograph, a sound recording device invented by French printer Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (1817-1879), and patented in 1857. Sound waves entering the funnel were recorded as a trace made on paper or glass (cylinder at centre left). This invention pre-dated the later phonograph, but was intended purely as a laboratory device to study acoustics. It was not until the 1870s that it was realised that such traces could be used to recreate the sounds. In 2008, some of the earliest ever recorded sounds were recreated from phonautograph traces, including what is thought to be Scott singing a French folk song in 1860. This illustration is from 'Physique Populaire' (Emile Desbeaux, 1891).

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