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Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?

JohnInKansas 20 Jul 11 - 03:36 AM
Will Fly 20 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
glueman 20 Jul 11 - 04:12 AM
glueman 20 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM
Jack Campin 20 Jul 11 - 04:29 AM
wilbyhillbilly 20 Jul 11 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 20 Jul 11 - 07:41 AM
glueman 20 Jul 11 - 08:02 AM
Surreysinger 20 Jul 11 - 08:06 AM
JohnInKansas 20 Jul 11 - 12:59 PM
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Subject: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:36 AM

The news of the day is that an apparent record for restoration of a rather old audio recording has been reported:

Earliest talking doll, made by Edison, resurrected

[quoting the article]

Computer scientist uses modern tech to bring 123-year-old recording to life

Innovation News Daily
7/18/2011

One of Thomas Edison's earliest ideas for his phonograph involved recording the audio for talking dolls on a ring-shaped cylinder. You know, for kids. Now researchers have digitally resurrected the sound of the earliest known example of such a recording from 123 years ago.

This earliest surviving talking doll recording features a woman reciting a verse of the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." She was one of two women hired by Edison for what may have been the first professional recording artist gig. The solid metal record and its counterparts may represent the first phonograph recordings ever made for intended sale to the public ? even if they were never actually sold.

The tin phonograph cylinder made in 1888 represents Edison's first attempt to make talking dolls, as described in laboratory notes and newspaper articles from late in the year.

But for unknown reasons, Edison had switched from tin to wax recordings by the time the first talking dolls first hit store shelves in April 1890. Doll sales flopped in part because the wax recordings proved too fragile. Fortunately for Edison, he saw other successes with the phonograph and similarly bright ideas such as the incandescent light bulb.

More than a century later, the original round tin recording has been bent out of shape. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California used 3-D optical scanners to create a digital model of the original recording.

They then extracted a digital audio file by using modern image analysis, and captured all but the very first syllable of the very first word.

Historian Patrick Feaster of Indiana University and researcher Rene Rondeau of Corte Madera, Calif., helped identify the recording's significance.

National Park Service museum curators had first cataloged the object in 1967 from among items found in the desk of Edison's secretary, William H. Meadowcroft. A paper tag attached to the cylinder simply reads: "Tin Phonograph Cylinder [?]l Record."

[end quote]

At the link, you'll find a picture of the rather badly deformed tin loop. It quite obviously was too fragile to be bent back into shape, so the "reshaping" had to be done "photographically" and "digitally."

As with most such "restored artifacts," we have no living witness who actually heard the original recording and can testify as to the accuracy of the restoration, but it's probably safe to assume that a reasonably accurate recovery was made.

Anybody want to bet that any magnetic media or "burned" CD/DVD will be readable a hundred years from now? Old phonograph records, and perhaps pressed CDs that have "physical bumps" containing the data perhaps could be to some degree recoverable, some magnetic media might have sufficient persistence, but photos and "writable CDs" that depend on chemical or photo-optical "writing" of the data are almost certain to be much more transitory. Anyone who's walked through a graveyard will agree that even what's "chiseled in stone" mostly fades into illegibility in about a hundred years or only a little longer.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

Fascinating article - and mp3 - John. Thanks for posting. I have very old 78rpm records that I can still play on my 1930s wind-up gramophone (UK version of 'phonograph'!) and, though crackly, they still play. As do all my old vinyl records.

I've had one commercial CD fail completely - because the data registry area on the centre of the disc was scratched - but some early home-made CDs became unlistenable to, and worse than a really old 78.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 04:12 AM

A few very rare records succumbed to the fashion for turning them into vases and flowerpots, their owners awaiting the technology to return them to their original shape (if it ever arrives). An extremely rare Elvis Presley recording is known to be vase shaped.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM

....Moreover, the whole digital arena is extremely scary for archival purposes. DVDs, mini DVDs, memory sticks and cards, tapes DV and non-DV, all will be ancient history within a couple of generations.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 04:29 AM

Sound recording is thirty years older than that:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89douard-L%C3%A9on_Scott_de_Martinville


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 05:37 AM

The most interesting disc I've had sent to me for conversion to cd a while ago was one that was sent home from a second world war zone through the NAAFI in 1942, to a wife with a spoken message to her and the children from her husband.

It was a metal (aliminium)? disc about 4" across, sandwiched between a layer of shellac? on each side, one side recorded, the other smooth.

As it was starting to crack and a few pieces had broken off completely, luckily around the edges, the family wanted to preserve the message which I managed to cleanup and transfer to a high quality CD.

I now wonder if it will still be legible in another 70 odd years!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 07:41 AM

I remember hearing recently a piece on Radio 4 about an early version of 'Au clair de la lune, being an 1860!!!! recording on paper (no not sheet music). I checked on Wikipedia and it says...
'This one-line excerpt of the song was widely reported to have been the earliest recognizable record of the human voice and the earliest recognizable record of music...'


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 08:02 AM

Wasn't Clair de la Lune the one that had Charlotte Green corpsing after someone in the studio described it sounding like 'a bee in a bottle'?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: Surreysinger
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 08:06 AM

Yep!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Oldest Recovery of a Phono Record?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:59 PM

The unique aspect of the Edison recording was that it's claimed as the "first recording produced intentionally to be part of a consumer product."

I also liked the reference to the two ladies hired to read poems as being "the first paid performers at a recording gig."

Depending on how you define "successfully recorded," even de Martinville's claim can probably be challenged, but "firsts" of this kind can easily become too contentious to be worth fighting very hard over.

John


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