The first ever audio recording we know of was made by Éduoard-Léon Scott in 1857. As Maggie has previously posted here, the recording device he invented, the phonautograph, etched sound waves to paper. They weren't intended to be "played back" and it wasn't until 2008 when researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used a scanner and "virtual stylus" to listen to the sounds inscribed on the paper. It was a recording of a tuning fork and someone, likely Scott, singing Au Clair de la Lune.
I listened to it over and over this morning and was trying to imagine a time when there was no recording, and every sound was temporary. That led me to what appears to be a fascinating book from 2009, titled "Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music" by Greg Milner. The opening paragraph is fantastic:
The story goes that, late in his life, Guglielmo Marconi had an epiphany. The godfather of radio technology decided that no sound ever dies. It just decays beyond the point that we can detect it with our ears. Any sound was forever recoverable, he believed, with the right device. His dream was to build one powerful enough to pick up Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music (Amazon)
For more about the Éduoard-Léon Scott project, visit FirstSounds.org
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
Remember back to the time when people thought java was just a hip way to talk about coffee? Or you vaguely remembered from geography class that it’s an island in the South Pacific? We’ve come a long way since then and now that we’ve rocket blasted into the tech future, you’re going to need to […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]