Hear the Voice of Alexander Graham Bell for the First Time in a Century

graham bell

In the past, we’ve brought you sound record­ings from the 19th cen­tu­ry — record­ings that recap­ture the long lost voic­es of fig­ures likes Walt Whit­man, Alfred Lord Ten­nyson, William Glad­stone, Tchaikovsky, and Thomas Edi­son. Now, thanks to the “dra­mat­ic appli­ca­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy,” the Smith­son­ian brings you (quite fit­ting­ly) the lost voice of the tele­phone’s inven­tor, Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell. Accord­ing to biog­ra­ph­er Char­lotte Gray, Bell record­ed his voice onto discs while con­duct­ing sound exper­i­ments between 1880 and 1886. Although the discs remained in the Smith­so­ni­an’s pos­ses­sion for decades, researchers lacked the tech­ni­cal abil­i­ty to play them back, and Bel­l’s voice went “mute” until Carl Haber, a sci­en­tist at the Lawrence Berke­ley Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, fig­ured out how to take high res­o­lu­tions scans of the discs and con­vert them into playable audio files. That’s what you can hear below. In the short record­ing dat­ed April 15, 1885, the inven­tor declares: “Hear my voice — Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell.”

H/T Mal­colm; audio via The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Voic­es from the 19th Cen­tu­ry: Ten­nyson, Glad­stone, Whit­man & Tchaikovsky

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

Hear the Only Sur­viv­ing Record­ing of Woolf’s Voice

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  • Larry says:

    Actu­al­ly the first work­ing tele­phone was invent­ed by Johann Philipp Reis in 1860. The Reis device was test­ed by the British com­pa­ny Stan­dard Tele­phones and Cables (STC)and con­firmed it could trans­mit and receive speech. At the time STC was bid­ding for a con­tract with Alexan­der Gra­ham Bel­l’s Amer­i­can Tele­phone and Tele­graph Com­pa­ny, and the results were cov­ered up by STC’s chair­man Sir Frank Gill to main­tain Bel­l’s rep­u­ta­tion

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