NYT: Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison

“Researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison’s invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades. 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.”

First: EIGHTEEN SIXTY? Wah, cool.

Second: the editorial decision to use the word ‘recording,’ while semantically accurate, is misleading, as the use of the word in an audio context implies something which was designed for playback when it was, as we say, recorded.

The etymology of the word, however, permits its’ misleading use in this context.
Imagine, for example, a seismograph being referred to throughout an article about an earthquake primarily by the word ‘recording,’ and noting in passing that the seismograph had been converted to audio from paper-based waveform records.

Anyway, this is still really cool.