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Scott de Martinville


Volta Laboratory




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Home > Our Research

Our Research

First Sounds has been in the forefront of identifying, studying, and playing back the world's earliest audio recordings since 2007.

Here we share what we have learned about the earliest sound recordings and their makers. To date we have concentrated on three inventors or centers of invention:

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The inventor of sound recording made the world's first recordings of airborne sounds in Paris between 1853/4 and 1860 on a machine he called a phonautograph.

Thomas Edison, Charles Batchelor, and the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad. In the summer of 1878 the inventor of the phonograph and his assistant recorded noises emanating from Manhattan's newest conveyance.

The Volta Laboratory Associates. Funded by Alexander Graham Bell and directed by Charles Sumner Tainter, this research and development concern conducted sound recording and playback experiments in Washington DC in the 1880s.

We have also tracked down—and put to rest rumors of—other early recordings.