Examples from the Berkeley Lab Recorded Sound Restoration Project

Last Update 23-September-2013

Recording of Alexander Graham Bell 1885 (excerpts)

The recording is over 4 minutes long and consists mostly of counting. At the end he identifies himself as follows: This record has been made by Alexander Graham Bell in the presence of Dr. Chichester A. Bell on the 15th of April 1885 at the Volta Laboratory 1221 Connecticut Avenue, Washington D. C. In witness whereofhear my voice | Alexander Graham Bell

Here is a link to that segment:


The bit at the end where he says hear my voice is further excerpted at


Wax cylinder recording of Melville Bell (AG Bells father) 1881.

This is a very early example of a recording on wax. It was Bells innovation to replace tinfoil with wax, a more durable medium. The text is: T-r-rT-r-rThere are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamed of in our philosophyT-r-rI am a Graphophone and my mother was a Phonograph.


The St. Louis Tinfoil 1878

This is a recording made using an early commercial Edison phonograph as part of a public demonstration in June of 1878. It is the oldest Edison technology recording played, in modern times, to date. The speaker is journalist Thomas Mason. The record is over 1 minute long and can be accessed in full and in pieces at this URL:


Leon Scott paper phonautograms 1860

Earliest recordings of a human voice. Restored by the FirstSounds collaboration including Berkeley Lab.


California Native American field recordings by Alfred Kroeber and associates (~1912)

This is an example of a wax cylinder recording of Ishi, then the only surviving member of the Yahi, of Northern California, and is part of the telling of the story of Wood Duck


Example of the restoration of a broken disc

This is a 78 rpm shellac disc recording of Too Fat Polka, performed by Louis Prima and Orchestra, in the late 1940s. The disc is broken into about six pieces. It was scanned optically and digitally re-assembled.

2013 examples\Too Fat Polka Clip.wav

Aluminum transcription discs by Milman Parry 1930




Other General Information

Main project link http://irene.lbl.gov/

Short project description Handout-LBNL-2013.pdf

Longer project description Sound-Project-0513.pdf

Public presentation (large pdf) http://irene.lbl.gov/Harvard-April-2012-public.pdf

AG Bell Volta Lab Project:

2011 study volta-release.html

2013 study volta-release-2013.html

Edison Tinfoil Project http://websnap08.lbl.gov/Tinfoil.html

Edison Talking Doll http://www.nps.gov/edis/photosmultimedia/early-talking-doll-recording-discovered.htm


Carl Haber

Physics Division

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory