A voice from history has come roaring back. Researchers from the Smithsonian have recently announced that they have succeeded in cleaning up a number of audio recordings, performed by Alexander Graham Bell. The recordings were originally collected on fragile wax-and-cardboard discs. While in good condition since their creation in 1885, according to Smithsonian Magazine, the method of replaying the discs had been lost to history.
Scientists at The Smithsonian were able to convert high-resolution optical scans of the discs into a digital audio format, allowing us to hear Mr. Graham Bell’s voice for the first time.
In an age where audio technology plays such large role, it seems more than a little ironic that the voice of one of the men who helped bring us here had been lost to history. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, but he studied and experimented with all forms of acoustics for much of his life. At the age of 12, his mother began to lose her hearing. Her gradual deafness affected the young Graham Bell deeply. He even developed a finger language so that he could hold his mother’s hand and tap out the conversations happening around them. This relationship lead him into the study of acoustics.
Alexander Graham Bell is widely regarded as one of the most influential inventors in modern history, often thrown in with the likes of Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Nikola Tesla. This short clip below is from the Smithsonian discs. All you’ll hear, through some considerable static, is:
“Hear my voice – Alexander Graham Bell.”
Part of me does kind of wish he did something a little more fun – like pretending to call a game between the Boston Beaneaters and the Philadelphia Quakers, but I guess we’ll just have to settle for an historic recording for its own sake.