Evolution of Audio Recording and Play Back
The oldest known recording of sound was recently found and played by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. It was discovered to be a haunting ten second portion of a singer performing “Au Clair de la Lune.” This recording predates what was previously believed to be the oldest sound recording (Thomas Edison singing “Mary had a Little Lamb” into his phonograph) by nearly two decades. Since the recording of “Au Clair de la Lune” was made in the late 1800s, the technology of audio recording and play back has gone through a series of revolutions. This provided society with some of the most important and memorable audio devices such as the phonoautograph, telegraphone, and the 8-track tape system.
The first device capable of recording sound was the phonoautograph. It was invented by the Frenchmen Leon Scott in 1857. He based the design of the device on the anatomy of the human ear. It works by scratching representations of sound waves onto a paper cylinder covered in soot from an oil lamp. The needle that creates the etchings is moved by a diaphragm that vibrates in response to the sound. The pros of this device were that it was the first device of its kind, it gave scientists a medium to view sound waves in, and it was fairly accurately. Some negative qualities of the device were that it was fragile, and not actually capable of playing back the sound. Yet, in recent years, scientists have found a way to play phonoautograms with modern technology.
The next milestone in the technology of audio recording and playback was the telegraphone. It was the first practical device for magnetic recording and reproduction. It was invented by the Danish telephone engineer Valdemar Poulsen and patented in 1898. The telegraphone used a steal wire wrapped around a cylinder. The wire was swept over by an electromagnetic head to record and playback. To change from microphone to...