First Sounds featured on public radio's Studio 360 (1/6/12)

Volta discs speak (12/18/11)


News Archive

New sounds revealed (5/29/09)

Revised FAQ online (5/29/09)

"Au Clair de la Lune" named the best recording of 2008 (12/22/08)

The "Lost" Tracing of Lincoln's Voice (5/18/08)

Léon Scott in his own words (4/29/08)

World's earliest recording made available online (3/27/08)

First Sounds' research featured in the New York Times (free registration required) (3/27/08)

The World’s Oldest Sound Recordings Played For The First Time (3/27/08)


RSS Feed
















































Home > Sounds >Charles Batchelor's Phonautograms

Charles Batchelor's Phonautograms

Metropolitan Elevated Railroad from 40 feet away (1878 Phonautogram)

In 1878, when Thomas Edison was hired to study the objectionable noise produced by the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad in New York City, he turned to the phonautograph, adapting one of his tinfoil phonographs to draw a "readable" lateral waveform. Edison's colleague Charles Batchelor made this particular phonautogram as part of that project in September. We believe the excerpt presented here begins and ends with test shouts, with three specimens of actual train noise in between-the earliest American sounds yet reproduced. Note that pitch fluctuations are due at least in part to the irregular recording speed.

  Download mp3: Metropolitan Elevated Railroad  


Flash player required

The Flash plug-in is required to listen to the audio. Download Flash now.

Get Adobe Flash player