Earliest Recording of Sound Finally Played Back

1860 snippet, made before playback even imagined, 17 years ahead of Edison patent
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2008 11:29 AM CDT

Thomas Edison and associates might've been first to hear recorded sound, but scientists have revealed they weren’t the first to create it, the New York Times reports. A 10-second recording of “Au Clair de la Lune” made in 1860—17 years before Edison patented the phonograph—has finally been played back by researchers who discovered it in a Paris archive.

The Frenchman who created the phonautograph—a horn affixed to a stylus, which drew sound waves on paper before playback was even imagined—always maintained he’d beaten the American to the punch. The typesetter responsible for what's now deemed “the earliest known recording of sound,” saw recording as a stenographic pursuit, and likely figured the less-essential hearing part would come in time. (More Thomas Edison stories.)

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