Sound Recordings Made BEFORE Thomas Edison

Most history books say that recorded audio was born in mid-1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.  That’s true.  He was the first guy to come up with a way of recording audio in a way that it could later be played back.

However, this did NOT make him the inventor of recorded audio.  People had been recording audio for centuries.  The problem is that none of the ways they did it could be played back.

Representations of sounds were first recorded on paper in 980.  No, that’s not a typo.  I really do mean the year 980.  And I’m not talking about musical notations on sheet music.

Patrick Feaster has a book called Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio, a CD and book that brings these old, er, non-audio audio representations come to life with the use of some modern computing power.  

This is fascinating stuff.  I gotta get me a copy.  More at Buzzfeed.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Sound Recordings Made BEFORE Thomas Edison

  • March 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Wow! That's a pretty amazing idea. The music producers back then must have had some reason for recording music. Do you have any idea why, or if it's even playable now? Thanks for sharing the amazing information!


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