Queer history – recorded sounds pre-date Edison’s phonograph

Queer – as in odd, unexpected…

I’ll include this tidbit item as the French are honorary queers, at least according to the likes of Bush, Condi and Limbaugh.  Not to mention that Bertrand Delanoe, the popular gay mayor of Paris is seriously in line to be a presidential contender.  The NYT reports this morning that a Frenchman, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville,  invented and used a device as early as 1860 to record speech.  It lacked a playback capability….but read on!

The 10-second recording of a singer crooning the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune” was discovered earlier this month in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. It was made, the researchers say, on April 9, 1860, on a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. But the phonautograph recording, or phonautogram, was made playable — converted from squiggles on paper to sound — by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

Full article here.

The second song he recorded was a French cover of Over the Rainbow.   Edison, whose Menlo Park, NJ research lab was even then working on similar technology, informed the RIAA.  The resulting cease and desist order prevented the invention from gaining any traction.

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