June 29, 2012

This Is the Oldest Record In History—Scanned and Recreated From a Photo

A recording made in the 19th century of the voice of a man born in the 18th century.

"Sometime in 1889, Emile Berliner recorded the first album in the history of the world. Then, that record by the father of the gramophone was destroyed. Today, Patrick Feaster, a sound historian at Indiana University, recreated the album using just a printed photograph of the album. His technique defies belief.

"Feaster found the photo of the album by chance, in a German magazine from 1890 stored at Bloomington's Herman B Wells Library:

I was looking for a picture of the oldest known recording studio, to illustrate a discussion I was giving on my work with Thomas Edison's recordings. I pulled it off the shelf and, while I had it open, I looked at the index and saw there was an article on the gramophone. I thought, 'Oh, that's a bonus. So I flipped through and, lo and behold, there's a paper print of the actual recording.

"Let me emphasize that last point: there was no relief on that photo. As the video above shows, it was printed on paper. The image was completely flat, absolutely bi-dimensional. It had none of the three-dimensional valleys and mountains that make the sound in an album.

"But Fester is an expert on resuscitating records from photographs. He scanned that image at a very high resolution. Then, using image processing software, he enhanced the resulting image. After obtaining the sound profile hidden in the shadows of the print, he used software to recreate the actual sound. -- Gizmodo

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 29, 2012 6:20 PM
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Blown, my mind is. I love this kind of stuff.

Posted by: Joan Of Argghh at June 29, 2012 7:19 PM

Exactamundo, Joan!

Posted by: Jewel at June 29, 2012 7:34 PM


Posted by: Leslie at June 29, 2012 11:13 PM

For his next trick, he will extract a long lost photograph from a gramophone recording of said photograph.

Posted by: rg at June 30, 2012 1:02 AM

Very cool. It reminds me of an old episode of "The Outer Limits" where a geologist figured out a way to recover information from rocks. He was able to play back the screams of the people fleeing the volcano eruption at Pompeii.

Posted by: rickl at June 30, 2012 3:27 AM

I would like to see this feat replicated by someone else (who doesn't know Feaster) before I swallow it.

Posted by: BillH at June 30, 2012 9:53 AM

On the edge of impossible means it might be possible.

Good. I applaud such, pick one (feats, tricks, invention,..)

Posted by: KTWO at June 30, 2012 1:36 PM


It's been done before with different mediums, such as using a laser scanner to scan records and then play them back from the image.

What this man accomplished is the same thing, only harder.

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