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Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the now-that-is-an-oldie dept.

Music 314

Tree131 writes "The New York Times is reporting that sound recordings pre-dating Edison's made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer, were discovered by American audio historians at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. The archives are on paper and were meant for recording but not playback. Researchers used a high quality scan of the recording and an electronic needle to play back the sounds recorded 150 years ago. 'For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words "Mary had a little lamb" on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But 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.'"

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Not the first, but gets all the credit? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883686)

Edison sounds like a modern day Microsoft.

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (2, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883754)

I guess Tesla/Westinghouse would be analogous to the Open source movement [wikipedia.org] , then. Note that, in the end, AC prevailed. Go Tesla!

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (4, Funny)

dcsmith (137996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883968)

Note that, in the end, AC prevailed.


Blast it, don't encourage the Anonymous Cowards!

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (5, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883762)

Not really. Edison was able to play his recordings, which this Frenchman apparently wasn't able to do.

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883826)

Leave it to the French to invent write only memory.

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (3, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883918)

I thought that write-only memory was a Polish invention, like rasin juice and metal skateboard wheels.

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884248)

Damn, when I was a kid, roller skates and skateboards were only metal.
We also had strap on skate wheels that were also metal.

Loyal to the 'foil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883854)

Ahhh, tinfoil [myspace.com] . Is there anything it can't do? :)

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (4, Informative)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884130)

It should also be noted that the intention of, "this Frenchman" was not to play back his recordings, but to develop an automatic method of transcribing speech. TFA states:

In a self-published memoir in 1878, [Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville] railed against Edison for "appropriating" his methods and misconstruing the purpose of recording technology. The goal, Scott argued, was not sound reproduction, but "writing speech, which is what the word phonograph means."

Re:Not the first, but gets all the credit? (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883874)

He is no longer the father of sound recording, but his WAS the first to play sound back.

The inventer of this device never indended it for playback. What good is a recording that can't be played back?

I don't know of any useless thing Microsoft has picked up and made useful. I also don't see anywhere that it says Edison ever heard of this guy.

Also, Edison was already not the father of modern sound recording. Modern sound recordings are digital.

-mcgrew

He was the first. (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884028)

IMO Edison can still be considered the father of sound recording. While he may not have been the first person to transcribe sound in another medium, he was indeed the first to discover a medium that would allow for easy playback - and reproduction as well. He also commercialized it, and the definition of "father" is making babies. :-P

Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883688)

Well, time to add another to the list [slashdot.org] .

Remember, if you want to be a scientist, you just have to be smart. If you want to be a well-known-until-the-end-of-time scientist, you have to be smart and suffer from at least a little megalomania [wiktionary.org] (see the war of currents [wikipedia.org] or Einstein's failure to accept quantum theory [wikipedia.org] ).

I'm still shocked fewer people don't realize Leibniz beat Newton to Calculus [wikipedia.org] . Oh well, great disputes make for great reading.

Oh well, one could spend countless hours recalling the great debates of science, it's a shame that some of them are about who's name goes in the history books. Strangely, ingenuity & legacy complexes seem to go hand in hand. I'm saddened to think that there may be others buried in history by ultra competitive researchers.

Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883890)

Edison was the man, because, unlike this inventor, his device allowed people to play back sounds. It wasn't even possible to play back the recording this other guy made until they could scan the paper and convert the signal to a waveform. As a side note, I'd have to ask: this is what passes for research these days? I'm unimpressed.

Newton beat Leibniz to calculus. Really, the whole thing with Newton was that, he wrote the principia while trying to hide the calculus that he used to invent. It's pretty difficult for someone to come out with a volume like that, unless they have calculus. I might even start using Newton's fluxion notation....

As for Einstein, while we was off about quantum physics, he did predict the appearance of stars -behind- the sun during a solar eclipse, which is really outrageous when you think about it.

Re:Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884064)

As a side note, I'd have to ask: this is what passes for research these days? I'm unimpressed.
Thank you, that's precisely the kind of suppressive rhetoric I was talking about, I couldn't have illustrated that better myself. It passed for research back then, not "these days" and whether or not someone could play it back or not still made it impressive. Curiosity in the weakest minds can lead to some of the greatest discoveries.

What's wrong with saying "Scott devised a way to record but not play back while Edison devised both" in the history books?

Furthermore, many accounts I've read claim that Leibniz beat Newton to calculus. I wasn't there so I can't say but I still think his name should be mentioned more than it is. Especially since some accounts give Leibniz credit with both the first and second (hence the term Leibniz Integral Rule [wikipedia.org] ) fundamental theories of calculus even if his logic to find them was flawed.

The fact that you side step Einstein's efforts to overlook quantum theory by pointing out an amazing discovery by him is hilarious. Should I try to circumvent the calculus discussion by pointing out Leibniz's contributions to philosophy?

Frankly, I am dumbfounded why it's difficult to list the multiple peoples it takes to make a brilliant discovery and even further dumbfounded when a man of science attempts to take credit for or repress someone's work.

Re:Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884238)

What's wrong with saying "Scott devised a way to record but not play back while Edison devised both" in the history books?

This morning my son (2) scribbled a drawing. "This is Salty" he said, his favorite train engine from Thomas the Tank Engine series. Now I kinda knew what it was because he picked the right colors, but in the end it was a bunch of scribbles on a page. A year from now we will have no clue what it is.

My son devised a way to record his thoughts, but not play them back a year from now. Is this meaningful? Not really. It's meaningful that he's trying, and his mental recollection is great, but scribbles on a piece of paper, other than sentimental value, will be meaningless a year from now. I think you suffer from sentimentality.

Re:Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884296)

That's a wonderful story. I don't see how your analogy in anyway applies here. Are you comparing Scott to a child? Are you comparing his drawing to a recording that actually was read back by scientists today?

Aha, your signature (Thanks for the memories, Mr. Favre. McCain '08) explains it all.

Re:Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (0)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884290)

What's wrong with saying "Scott devised a way to record but not play back while Edison devised both" in the history books?
 
It's wrong to say that Edison invented a way to record sound, when what he did was use a French design that does that, and modified it for playback.

Props for playback, but lets not exaggerate his contribution to the field.

Re:Edison, Newton, Einstein.... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884380)

It's wrong to say that Edison invented a way to record sound, when what he did was use a French design that does that, and modified it for playback

I'd say independently invented. Edison couldn't speak French. He didn't have a formal education. And, the way he thought, about transforming one thing to another, from mechanical to electrical energy and back, probably made it easier for him to see the phonograph independently than it would be to steal someone else's idea.

Re:Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (2, Informative)

MrKevvy (85565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883900)

I am surprised that your list doesn't contain Edwin Howard Armstrong [wikipedia.org] . I suggest the book "Man of High Fidelity" if you can find it. Like Tesla, he was a brilliant electrical engineer, inventing many of the circuits essential to radio (and he invented FM) but others stole the credit and patents from him throughout his life, culminating in his suicide in 1954.

Re:Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (-1, Troll)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883994)

On that note, FUCK EDISON. Fuck Edison so much.

LONG LIVE NIKOLA TESLA!

Re:Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884180)

Leibniz was working on calculus the same time as Newton. The difference was Newton kept it to himself for too long because he was making money out of using it on peoples' problems. Still, most people outside of physics use Leibniz's notation rather than Newton's dots.

Re:Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884186)

Strangely, ingenuity & legacy complexes seem to go hand in hand. I'm saddened to think that there may be others buried in history by ultra competitive researchers.


I think part of being a truely meaningful innovator in history is getting people to notice. Jim Bob may have cold fusion running in his basement but unless he tells people AND gets them to listen, it is merely one man who benefits and not the entire human race. People who seek credit and glory are the ones who do the hard work of bring science into the limelight and they are the ones who deserve the praise imo. 1000 people could have invented the light bulb, movie camera, sound recording, etc but it was edison's patent obsession and money/glory seeking behavior that really pushed his "inventions" into every day appliances for the advancement of mankind.

I have a pollution free, non-horsepower robbing, solid state air conditioner installed in my classic car, but I am not doing shit for our economy/environment/technology because I am too lazy to market, patent, and profit off of my own invention.

Re:Poor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884320)

Apparently, it also helps to have an easy to pronounce name. Einstein/Edison/Newton vs Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville/Leibniz.

Also, it isn't fair to Einstein to say he "failed" to accept quantum theory. He was one of the few to see it for what it was, and never tried to accept it.

Awesome (4, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883698)

I wonder how many hours Édouard-Léon pondered over this piece of paper, trying to devise some way to play it back. I think it's just spectacular that we are able to do so 150 years later.

But give credit where it's due... Edison not only transferred sound to physical media - he played it back too.

WOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883796)

I wonder how many hours Édouard-Léon pondered over this piece of paper, trying to devise some way to play it back. I think it's just spectacular that we are able to do so 150 years later.

Not just the world's first sound recording, then, but also the world's first Write-only memory! [catb.org]

Re:Awesome (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883880)

If you read the article, he was interested in archiving of the sound for purposes of later analysis of the written result, not for playback. Given his apparent resentment of Edison, this may be a claim (in my opinion, not the article's) that didn't actually reflect reality.

The similarity in means between Edison and Edouard-Leon is due to the technology of the time with respect to sound more than to a similar goal. In both, a coneis used to capture sound waves and translate them into physical movement of a stylus. In one case, the stylus creates marks on paper; in another, it creates varying grooves in a wax medium.

It was Edison's use of a medium that preserved the movement of the stylus in a way that could be made to easily cause another stylus to move that gave him the ability to play back the sound. If the largely mechanical technology of the time had a way to follow the written marks and translate them back into motion then Edouard-Leon could have played it back as well.

Mod UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884008)

Edison built a system that could record AND playback. Without both components, the output might be interesting, but largely useless.

Re:Awesome (3, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884144)

I wonder how many hours Édouard-Léon pondered over this piece of paper, trying to devise some way to play it back. I think it's just spectacular that we are able to do so 150 years later.

But give credit where it's due... Edison not only transferred sound to physical media - he played it back too.
The earliest known invention of a phonographic recording device was the phonautograph, invented by Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville and patented on March 25, 1857. It could transcribe sound to a visible medium, but had no means to play back the sound after it was recorded.

It was a scientific device, meant to study sound waves.

Edison modified it for playback, and made his fortune. [time passed] Then he electrocuted an elephant [wikipedia.org] to FUD alternating current technology.
He was the Bill Gates of the 19th/20th century. Same morals, same amount of inventing.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884408)

Sorry. Gates isn't worthy to lick Edison's boots in terms of actually inventing things. What's the big deal about electrocuting an elephant?

According to TFA... (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884286)

He spent zero hours trying to devise how to play it back. Scott's purpose was not to record and play back sound, it was to record sound in visual form for some kind of subsequent analysis. It doesn't sound like he ever even conceived of playing it back.

Uh, pointless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883718)

What good is recording without playback? I don't even consider that to be worthwhile. Sure it's a step forward in terms of "pure science", but what kind of utility would that have?

Pure science breakthroughs are good, but the ones with utility (correctly, IMHO) are the ones that deserve to be put in the history books.

Re:Uh, pointless... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883830)

What good is recording without playback?
None whatsoever. But it is hard to play something back until you have figured out how to record. He just hadn't figured out that step yet.

Re:Uh, pointless... (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883888)

No, he didn't figure out that step. It's not like he's alive and still trying.

Re:Uh, pointless... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883976)

Pure science WAS the point. This was one of the ways they discovered what sound actually was. The ability to play these old recordings back is neat, but beside the point.

Re:Uh, pointless... (2, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884092)

It's only pointless if you think of it as a recording machine designed for playback rather than one designed for analysis. Seismographs use similar technology to this day - thing vibrates, pen records vibrations. I'd hope you wouldn't call the recordings they produce pointless because we don't have the technology to recreate a quake.

Re:Uh, pointless... (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884340)

What good is recording without playback?

FTA:

Scott is in many ways an unlikely hero of recorded sound. Born in Paris in 1817, he was a man of letters, not a scientist, who worked in the printing trade and as a librarian. He published a book on the history of shorthand, and evidently viewed sound recording as an extension of stenography. In a self-published memoir in 1878, he railed against Edison for "appropriating" his methods and misconstruing the purpose of recording technology. The goal, Scott argued, was not sound reproduction, but "writing speech, which is what the word phonograph means."

Visually capturing the sound would theoretically give you more information than a stenographer could record - tone of voice, for example. It would also mean the stenographer wouldn't have to keep up in real time, because they could just analyze the recording later. However, I sure wouldn't want to be the one tasked with "reading" the recording.

And the first words were ... (4, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883722)

researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman

"I surrender!"

Re:And the first words were ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884066)

What, not "premier post" ?

Flight? (2, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883726)

Wasn't there also a Frenchman whose flight predated the Wright Brothers? I seem to remember that the key difference was the Wright Brothers got the whole process to work.

Re:Flight? (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883748)

IOW, the French guy "crashed his plane."

Re:Flight? (2, Informative)

underpants_gnome (1226602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883834)

I don't know about "before" the Wright Brothers, but there is the well known case of Santos' Dumont flight in Paris. The key difference to the Wright Flyer was the take-off process. His plane (the 14 Bis) had an engine, or in other words, was self-powered and could sustain flight. That's why many people (outside the US of course =P) consider Santos Dumont's invention the "first real airplane".

Re:Flight? (1)

glgraca (105308) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884122)

Another important difference is that the Wright brother's flight was witnessed only by themselves and their crew whereas Dummont's flight was a very public event.

Re:Flight? (2, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884302)

The Montgolfier Brothers [wikipedia.org] took to the air almost a full century before the Wright brothers were even born. Mind you, that was in a hot air balloon.

test (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883728)

penis

Here we go again (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883736)

Yet another round of the "Who invented it first" pissing contest. An American claims to invent something and 10 Europeans jump up to say "No, Sir Dunston Whogivesashit from MY country actually invented it first!", followed by a black nationalist who announces that it was actually a black man who invented it first, a Hispanic who proclaims that a Guatemalan invented it first, etc.

Re:Here we go again (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883944)

followed by a black nationalist who announces that it was actually a black man who invented it first, a Hispanic who proclaims that a Guatemalan invented it first

That would be George Washington Carver Rodrigues LaFitte, the black Hispanic Frenchman who invented a method of storing binary data ao a peanut?

Re:Here we go again (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884368)

That would be George Washington Carver Rodrigues LaFitte, the black Hispanic Frenchman who invented a method of storing binary data ao a peanut?

"While he was living in St. Petersberg, so it was clearly a Russian inwention."
                                                                                                        -- Ensign Chekov

Re:Here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884140)

Yes and they are all wrong because really a Korean was the first to invent sound recording and playback.

Well? (5, Funny)

NotInfinitumLabs (1150639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883740)

Where's the fucking sound clip?

Re:Well? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883980)

Where's the fucking sound clip?

whitehouse.com? And what does that have to do with the first sound recording, which TFA says will be released Friday?

Considering how late some /. stories are I'm surprised this didn't wait until Friday too. Can we get a dupe, please? Like, on Friday? I mean, it's not like we don't get a lot of them anyway.

Re:Well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883996)

ZOMG Torrent plz!

Re:Well? (5, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884018)

The RIAA is releasing it next month on their 'Best of the Live 19th Century Recordings' album, priced at $39.99.

Re:Well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884126)

It used to be available, but the MPAA filed a Takedown notice and sued the ISP that was hosting it.

Not quite the same. (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883746)

Since de Martinville's "recording" was never even intended for playback, much less successfully played back at the time, I'd say that Edison retains the title.

Re:Not quite the same. (3, Insightful)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884026)

Why is it not the same? It *was* intended for playback, but he realized that technology was far beyond him. As it says in TFA, he was simply hoping to put down a recording that someone would later be able to decipher, which is exactly what happened. Thomas Edison definitely still deserves credit for his invention, but this is pretty remarkable nonetheless.

Re:Not quite the same. (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884168)

Why is it not the same? It *was* intended for playback, but he realized that technology was far beyond him.

Um, no, it wasn't. He never intended to play back the recording.

As it says in TFA, he was simply hoping to put down a recording that someone would later be able to decipher, which is exactly what happened.

TFA says nothing of the sort. In fact, TFA makes it clear that Scott considered Edison's work a bastardization of his own.

From TFA:

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. ...
Scott's device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered. ...
Scott is in many ways an unlikely hero of recorded sound. Born in Paris in 1817, he was a man of letters, not a scientist, who worked in the printing trade and as a librarian. He published a book on the history of shorthand, and evidently viewed sound recording as an extension of stenography. In a self-published memoir in 1878, he railed against Edison for "appropriating" his methods and misconstruing the purpose of recording technology. The goal, Scott argued, was not sound reproduction, but "writing speech, which is what the word phonograph means."

Re:Not quite the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884400)

As it says in TFA, he was simply hoping to put down a recording that someone would later be able to decipher, which is exactly what happened.
TFA says nothing of the sort.
...

From TFA:

...
Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.
...

Perhaps you need to read more closely.

Re:Not quite the same. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884070)

Since de Martinville's "recording" was never even intended for playback, much less successfully played back at the time, I'd say that Edison retains the title.

I'd say Edison clearly retains the title for playback and the Martinville clearly holds the new title for recording.

It's okay, bruised Americans... you still hold the more important title.

Seconded (1)

hassanchop (1261914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884086)

It's difficult to claim this is a working system when one of the main requirements is missing.

So... (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883756)

So Edison is no longer the father of recorded sound, but still the father of playback, right?

Re:So... (4, Funny)

dex22 (239643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883954)

Man, he's gonna get SO sued...

Possible contents: (4, Funny)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883760)

Likely contents:
  • "American scum like you cannot have a table at our fine restaurant."
  • "Regardez! The recording industry strike begins at dawn!"

Re:Possible contents: (1)

stuporglue (1167677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884120)

OT, but funny.


We were at a packed restaurant in France with my inlaws. The waiter needed to get past us and said :

Escuse me monsieur, I must walk...it is, ah, very nice

Re:Possible contents: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884284)

At least he tried the few words of English he knew, and this in his own country. When was the last time you heard an American waiter try a few words of French, or even recognize the language? Hell, most of the Americans that are here don't even try to speak that much French.

Money I don't have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22883770)

It seems that a recording you can not play back is the same as money you can't access, useless.

How big a cut does the **AA get?? (1)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883784)

probably why there is no sound clip with the story....

Re:How big a cut does the **AA get?? (2, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883896)

probably why there is no sound clip with the story....

Eh? RTFA. MP3 is provided. For those too lazy, here: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/audiosrc/arts/1860v2.mp3 [nytimes.com]

It's noisy as hell but recognizably a human voice.

Revisionist History (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883790)

Sometimes so-called "revisionist history" is history that has been revised for a good reason. Columbus did not discover America, and didn't even discover it for Europeans [wikipedia.org] . And Edison not only didn't invent sound recording, he didn't invent the light bulb [wikipedia.org] either (which isn't to say he wasn't extraordinarily influential in both industries).

Re:Revisionist History (2, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883986)

You're being pedantic. Even your own link says his had "an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve and a high resistance lamp that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable." In shorter terms, it worked in a utilitarian way. He may not be the inventor of the incandescent apparatus, but he's the inventor of the light bulb.

Re:Revisionist History (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884306)

Well, it's certainly true that Columbus didn't discover the Americas (it seems that all sorts of people from ancient Asiatics through more recent Siberians through Polynesians, Irish monks and Vikings were there first). The key thing, at least from Eurocentric and world history point of view, is that it was Columbus's "rediscovery" (so to speak) which lead in very short order to the colonization of the Americas by various European powers. It wasn't really the beginning of European colonization, however, as the Portugese had been doing that along the west coast of Africa for about a half century prior.

History shows us yet again, (2, Interesting)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883814)

That this seems to be the case with may of Edison's "inventions". Many of them were either invented by one of his subordinates and simply registered under his own name in the patent process, or were taken altogether from another scientist and claimed directly as his own. Take a look at Nikola Tesla's history and you'll see what I mean.

Re:History shows us yet again, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884118)

Edison was more of a research and developer (and tireless self-promoter) than an inventor.

No proof (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883844)

How do you prove you recorded something if it's just some stuff on paper that you can't play back? Even if we knew about this recording previously it wouldn't be proof of a recording until we were able to play it back. I think he should now be credited with the first recording, but Edison still has the first playback right?

been done before (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22883908)

I'd of thought it would of said "testing, testing, testing.."

Hell, he could of recorded anything he wanted as long as there was no method of playing it back.

It reminds me of that clever SW speech recognition that decoded audio from the Berghof films of Hitler and Eva Braun - I bet they did not realise that technology would one say be able to decode their speech, HAL would of loved it. Alternatively there were some very clever approaches to scanning vinyl recordings and cleaning up the signal digitally before recontructing the audio without hisses and scratches. This is not new, but its certainly clever.

The Hitler tapes are darn right creepy, I saw a great documentary on it, in fact you can watch the whole thing here:-
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2763127556620650689&q=hitler+speaks+duration%3Along&total=36&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0 [google.com]

On the historical front, it once again proves that in the world of science many people generally work on the same this simultaneously and behind every great man there are many almost great men who got there at the same time or earlier. Of course, everybody knows that Newton got there first...

So what (3, Insightful)

sckeener (137243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884000)

Columbus didn't discover America, but he made the most impact on it.

So what if Edison didn't make the first recording. He is the guy that ran with the ball and scored the touchdown.

Give props where they are due. Have this, 2 decade earlier guy, be a footnote.

Re:So what (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884160)

Columbus didn't discover America, but he made the most impact on it.

Really? So all those people who were living here at the time didn't have any impact?

And what about the vikings from 10 centuries ago who explored Newfoundland [wikipedia.org] ? We probably have them to thank for the Newfoundland dog.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884382)

"Columbus didn't discover America, but he made the most impact on it."

Precisely, how can you 'discover' a place where people are already living?

Re:So what (3, Insightful)

boojum.cat (150829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884386)

Columbus didn't discover America


Nonsense. Columbus did discover America. He just wasn't the first one to discover it. He didn't know it was there before he found it, so he discovered it. If you find your wife in bed with another man, would you say you didn't discover her infidelity just because she knew about it first?

  -- Steve

DMCA Violation! (5, Funny)

khendron (225184) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884006)

So some scientists managed to decipher and playback a recording of some singing that was encoded 150 years ago. That sounds like a violation of the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions! They'll be getting a letter from the RIAA soon.

edison was the bill gates/ steve jobs of his time (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884042)

he really didn't invent much. what he did was market, mass produce and popularize a lot early electrical inventions. and made a lot of money too. claiming that he was the man who invented all of this stuff is just part of the marketing campaign. rather than an anonymous guy in his lab, or some other guy whom he ripped off, or some other guy who discovered something as a curiousity, but never followed up, and was forgotten, or alexander graham bell, or nikolai tesla

and i'm not really denigrating edison. i am in fact saying that the cult of whomever invents something is overhyped. a lot of what is important in this world is producing the thing, popularizing it, putting it in the hands of consumers, not just dreaming the damn thing up. that's actually pretty easy. the light bulb was invented individually by half a dozen different guys in the 19th century. but the lion's share of the credit goes to edison. why? because he actually followed up and put the dang thing in the hand's of consumers. and that matters. some may think it is unfair, but who said life was fair? go study the farnsworth and rca and the invention of the television if you want a lesson on invetion and fairness and reality

i had a 32M rio pmp300 MP3 player in 1998, many years before an iPod was a twinkle in steve job's eye. but the mass of western industrial consumers didn't take portable mp3 players that seriously until steve jobs gave them something gleaming and sexy. such is the way of the world

there is more to progress than just invention. there is also streamlining for mass production, financing, distributing, marketing, etc. and those jobs (no pun intended) are not as sexy, but they oftentimes decide the tempo of progress more than some lonely guy tinkering somewhere. and, perhaps even more importantly, they decide immortality: whose name gets stuck in the history books next to an invention. and they also decide who gets the billions in riches from that invention too

believe me, in 2108, when someone wikiyahoogoogle's "mp3 player" on their visor computer, they won't see a rio pmp300. they will see steve job's cryogenically frozen head with a perfect gleaming iPodWhite(tm) smile

Re:edison was the bill gates/ steve jobs of his ti (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884088)

More Gates than Jobs, considering the anti-competitive behavior he engaged in.

RIAA (2, Funny)

dcsmith (137996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884056)

I'd say that since the New York Times has 'made available for download' a copy of the recording, we should be hearing from the RIAA any minute now.

lol (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884094)

He screwed-over Tesla. So why not some French guy?

No surprise here (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884108)

edison was one of the biggest phonies, invention and reputation snatchers in the history, as we know from many recent scandalous discoveries about what he did.

"Recording" (1)

Woundweavr (37873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884116)

Ugh IV of Big Cave recorded sound too but the recording only lasted as long as it took for the sound rebounding off the far wall to come back to him. Sure his didn't have the longevity of later attempts, but he came up with a technique that could playback his vocalizations! Given future advances in technology, it may be possible to retrieve this early recordings ....

So this gentleman came up with a way to make marks on paper that in the future would be able to direct the creation of music and/or sound? So did 9th century monks, when they codified musical notation. A computer can translate those marks on paper to sound too. While this gentleman surely deserves some credit for automating this process, without the ability to playback his sound...

Edison and The Simpsons (4, Funny)

herks (1144039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884128)

(Homer realizes that Thomas Edison has already invented safety legs for the back of a chair.) Homer: (Shouting) Aww, damn it! (Bart comes running down the basement stairs.) Bart: Hey Dad, heard you swearin'. Mind if I join in? Crap, boobs, crap! Homer: I thought I had a great idea, I must have seen it on this poster. (Bart studies Homer's Thomas Edison invention chart.) Bart: If Edison thought of that chair, how come it's not on this chart? Homer: It's not? Maybe he never told anyone about it. (Points at Edison poster.) That chair might be the only one he made. Bart: So? Homer: So, we've got to go to the Edison Museum and smash it! Then I'll be an inventor! Bart: But I thought you loved Edison. Homer: Aw, to hell with him. Bart: Yeah! Hell, damn, fart!

Re:Edison and The Simpsons (1)

herks (1144039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884192)

(Homer realizes that Thomas Edison has already invented safety legs for the back of a chair.)
Homer: (Shouting) Aww, damn it!
(Bart comes running down the basement stairs.)
Bart: Hey Dad, heard you swearin'. Mind if I join in? Crap, boobs, crap!
Homer: I thought I had a great idea, I must have seen it on this poster.
(Bart studies Homer's Thomas Edison invention chart.)
Bart: If Edison thought of that chair, how come it's not on this chart?
Homer: It's not? Maybe he never told anyone about it. (Points at Edison poster.) That chair might be the only one he made.
Bart: So?
Homer: So, we've got to go to the Edison Museum and smash it! Then I'll be an inventor!
Bart: But I thought you loved Edison.
Homer: Aw, to hell with him.
Bart: Yeah! Hell, damn, fart!

Meh. Don't you people ever watch the X-Files? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884132)

Or Mythbusters? I think with a little more effort and some archeological good fortune, the Lazurus Bowl will prove to pre-date this bit of Frenchiness.

What the Hell Happened to the French? (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884184)

The French were right up there at the forefront of progress and innovation for centuries. They practically defined the Enlightenment. Their democratic revolution followed the US lead, and even went so far as to execute their tyrant, not just kick him out. Their mathematicians and writers were among the very best, helping invent science and modern scholarship. Their engineering produced the Eiffel Tower. They gave us Jules Verne, imagining a future as fiercely as no one else except perhaps HG Wells.

But then it all hit the wall, apparently sometime in the late 1800s. Was it the Franco-Prussian War? Did they just get distracted by art and fashion long enough to get their derriere's torched in WWI? Did some magic spirit choke on a fin-de-siecle?

What happened?

Re:What the Hell Happened to the French? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884362)

went so far as to execute their tyrant, not just kick him out.
Well, he was right there, while the king of England never even set foot in America. It would have been a lot of trouble to get him to come be executed.

uh (1)

ra77le (1084291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884196)

something about history being broad gauge gossip or something...tumble, hic!

And the message is... (1)

ShadowOfMe (919646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884198)

All your recording are belong to moi.
Yes I've read the article and know what the real recording is.
On another topic; isn't what the french guy complaining similar in nature with what we're seeing still to this day with IP lawsuits and such. Isn't that one of the first case of "prior art" ? He invented capturing the sound waves on a medium and while he had not yet found a way to play it back it could have come to him at some point or another.

Edison was the MS of the 19th century (-1, Troll)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884270)

Beg, borrow buy or steal, then embrace, extend, extinguish... Anyhoo, Edison was the 'father of the phonograph' - not the 'father of sound recording'. There were many other players.

Aaah, Tesla (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884276)

He did a lot of cool stuff, like AC, the Tesla coil, etc., but people really hype him too much. He didn't unlock the Secrets of the Universe; those collections of "Tesla's Notes" you buy at Barnes and Noble for $40 will not help you build a flying saucer. Cue 1,000 Free Energy idiots telling me about how Tesla's Crystal Hydrologic Generator or whatever used the power of magnetic fields and crystals to get unlimited energy from regular water. The people who really pump Tesla are also the people who think they can generate unlimited energy through electrolysis of some water, then burning the resulting hydrogen/oxygen mix to get more electricity with which to crack more water, ad infinitum. Yes, I have heard someone tell me all about how he just bought this great book about Tesla and now had plans to do exactly what I just described, and how so many other people had done it but the Evil Oil Companies had sued them/burned down their houses/killed them.

Re:Aaah, Tesla (2, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884346)

His patents were rather cool..

His master idea of remote energy is also awesome. Or better yet, use towers in the stratosphere to collect energy from the giant earth capicator.

Even our space elevator would use energy coming from connecting upper atmosphere to ground.

Too bad there's a lot of flakes out there. It really smears his name.

Re:Aaah, Tesla (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884410)

Remote energy is cool, but people are afraid of plain old data being sent through the air, much less millions of watts broadcast everywhere. I haven't really looked into Tesla's stuff since about 8th grade so I don't remember much of his specific plans.
I remember being led from Tesla to some huge Free Energy website with hundreds schemes to get free energy, communicate with aliens, keep out the mind control rays, etc.; I'm pretty sure even back then I was able to spot the scientific problems with most of the stuff, but it was cool anyway. They did have some valid things, like running your car on filtered cooking oil and the fact that you *can* get small amounts of electricity from the air with an antenna. There were also a lot of the more typical things, like how to make your car run on liquid water. Anybody else know of that site and if it's still around? Hours of fun :)

WOM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22884294)

Summary says:

The archives are on paper and were meant for recording but not playback.

Article says:

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.

Man, such a let down! I was hoping this was the first example of Write-Only-Memory.

I watched this discussion in another forum (1)

hassanchop (1261914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22884322)

And ultimately, the best point made in the whole pissing contest essentially said as follows

"I don't care who did it first. I only care who made it something we can actually use, and that it resemble it's present form. That's enough for me to call someone the "Father of" something."

When incrementalism is more common than outright innovation, it's kind of silly to even care about who the father of something is.

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