The world earliest playable phonograph recording voices from 1878 of an experimental talking clock.
|Performed by||Frank Lambert|
Realizing that soft tinfoil, which was the recording medium of the day,
would not provide a lasting record (wax cylinders were still years away),
Lambert (no relation to Thomas Lambert, inventor of the Lambert celluloid cylinder)
apparently chose to experiment with a cylinder made of lead
To hear an excerpt
For help playing these sounds, click here.
The recording has four basic sections:
Portions of the fourth section (1:11-1:40) sound as if they may have been recorded in
reverse, that is, with the phonograph cranked counter-clockwise.
Notice in the second section, Lambert skips "10 o'clock"!
The 1878 Lambert phonograph
Aaron Cramer, discoverer of the 1878 Lambert phonograph, invited Tinfoil.com to his Brooklyn, New York home to transfer and preserve the sound recording from the lead cylinder.
Aaron Cramer operating the Lambert phonograph, April 1999
Close-up of the lead cylinder
The recording appears to have been recorded at an average of about 85 revolutions per
Hopefully, clever audio sleuths will be able to smooth out and conquer many of the
mysterious passages of this time
The device is listed in both Guinness Book of World Records and The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound in The United States as the world's oldest playable phonograph recording.
To learn more about the Lambert phonograph, see Aaron Cramer and Allen Koenigsberg's article (part 1) (part 2) provided courtesy of Collector Cafe.
To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the
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