Optical Imaging Study of the 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil Recording

from the

miSci (museum of innovation and science)

Schenectady, New York

Last Update 24-October-2012

Schenectady Tinfoil full shot

This site provides information about the digital restoration of an Edison tinfoil record which dates from 1878.  The restoration was done as part of a larger project to restore, preserve, and create digital access to sound recordings using non-invasive optical methods.   This project is a collaboration between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Library of Congress.

·        General reference to the Berkeley Optical Sound Restoration Project is at http://irene.lbl.gov/ ·

·        Link to miSci  www.miSci.org

·        Additional details on the methods can be found in 3D-Scanning.pdf

·        A description of the project to restore the 1878 tinfoil is Tinfoil_files\Restoring the 1878 St. Louis Foil.pdf

·        Powerpoint of a presentation given at miSci about the recovery of the recording, included embedded audio Tinfoil_files\MISCI-Edison-2012-POST.pdf

·        A short video clip of the scan Tinfoil_files\MVI_3097.MOV

·        A close-up clip Tinfoil_files\MVI_3096.MOV

·        A image of the scanning system Tinfoil_files\IMG_3089.JPG

·        A close-up image Tinfoil_files\IMG_3091.JPG

Audio files in WAV format


>>Recommended playback version: Full length filtered playback of the tinfoil Tinfoil_files\foil_top_ewc-DC-FIRFoil1CH.wav

The foil is easier to listen to if broken into distinct sections.  The sections are from the filtered version.

Section 1: Quiet lead-in with only the sound of the folds (see image above) Tinfoil_files\Leadin-filter.wav

Section 2: Brass instruments Tinfoil_files\Music-filter.wav

Section 3: Mary Had a Little Lamb Tinfoil_files\Mary-filter.wav

Section 4: Laughter Tinfoil_files\Laugher-filter.wav

Section 5: Old Mother Hubbard Tinfoil_files\Old-Mother-Hubbard-filter.wav

Section 6: Laughter and more speaking Tinfoil_files\More-laughter.wav

Full length raw playback of the tinfoil Tinfoil_files\foil_top_ewc.wav

Berkeley Lab research supported by

The Institute of Museum and Library Services


The Library of Congress

The National Archives and Records Administration

The National Endowment for the Humanities

The University of California at Berkeley

The Department of Energy

The Mellon Foundation

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

The Smithsonian Institution

miSci tinfoil preservation efforts are supported by

Save America’s Treasures

The National Endowment for the Humanities

The Institute of Museum and Library Services”


Carl Haber

Physics Division

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory