Phonautograph – First Sound Recorder Device: The first sound recordings were recorded by the French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville in 1857. He used a device called the phonautograph to record the sound. Phonautograph recorded sound from the air. The sound had been invisible and floating since the beginning of time. Scott’s phonautograph recorded it and made it both visible and perm­anent. this is a revolutionary achievement in that era.

Phonautograph - First Sound Recorder Device
Phonautograph – First Sound Recorder Device

The phonautograph consisted of a cone-shaped speaking horn with a flexible covering on the small end. A sharp point was attached to the flexible diaphragm, and it touched the surface of a piece of paper. The paper was covered with a thin layer of black soot, and if it were moved beneath the stylus as someone shouted down the horn, the resulting vibration of the diaphragm would be captured as a ziggy line in the soot on the paper.

Unfortunately, The phonautograph could record but not play. Scott recorded the sound, he didn’t think people would ever hear his recordings. He thought they would read the tracings.

phonautograph recording from an 1865 catalogue of Karl Rudolph Koenig’s acoustical instruments. (Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Libraries)

Nearly two decades after Scott’ s Phonautograph, Thomas Edison made a groundbreaking device that would change the way we listen to the sound. The device is called Phonograph or better known as Gramophone.

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