Researchers hear telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s voice for the first time (video)

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One of the more bitter historical ironies is that no one knows what Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, sounded like.

At least until now. Thanks to a 128-year-old recording and the scientific wizardry of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers Carl Haber and Earl Cornell, the world  finally has an idea — albeit a somewhat garbled one — of how Bell spoke. And it’s an amazing thing to hear.

The recording, which you can hear below, starts with Bell running off some numbers and ends with his stately, glorious declaration: “In witness whereof—hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell.”

Bell made the recording on April 15, 1885 in his Washington, D.C., lab. Researchers were able to recover the audio by using noninvasive sound recovery technology to create high-resolution digital maps of the disc’s surface. As a result, the researchers were able to hear the recording without destroying the wax-on-binder-board that housed it.

But that’s enough out of me. Just listen to the recording. (The neatest bit? Bell pronounced Graham as “gray-ham.”)

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