Thomas Edison Recites “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in Early Voice Recording

In the late 1870s, Thomas Edi­son, Amer­i­ca’s pro­lif­ic inven­tor, per­fect­ed the phono­graph and cap­tured a very ear­ly record­ing of the human voice – his own voice recit­ing the still pop­u­lar nurs­ery rhyme, Mary Had a Lit­tle Lamb. (Get mp3 here.) Lat­er, the Edi­son cylin­der also record­ed for pos­ter­i­ty Russ­ian com­pos­er Pyotr Tchaikovsky (The Nut­crack­er, the 1812 Over­ture, etc.) talk­ing with oth­er musi­cians in a light moment.

The Edi­son cylin­der was actu­al­ly pre­ced­ed by anoth­er sound-record­ing device, the pho­nau­to­graph, invent­ed by Édouard-Léon Scott de Mar­t­inville in 1857. Not long ago, sci­en­tists from the Lawrence Berke­ley Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry extract­ed a record­ing not heard in 150 years, a voice singing the French folk song “Au Clair de la Lune.”

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mark Twain Cap­tured on Film by Thomas Edi­son (1909)

Bike Tricks Cour­tesy of Thomas Edi­son

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