Experimental Sound Recording, Disc Layers of Cardboard, Plaster and Foil

<< >>
This is an experimental sound recording made in the Volta Laboratory, Washington, D.C. In a ring around the center, it is marked with the initials for Sumner Tainter, one of the Volta Laboratory Associates, and a date: “S.T. Dec. 29th 1881.” This recording was copied from an 1881 master at an unknown later date.
Sound was recovered from this recording in 2013.
Content transcript: “…[indistinct] I am a magnetical graphophone. What are you? To be, or not to be: that is the question. [trilled r sounds] How is that for high?”
Patrick Feaster, “A Discography of Volta Laboratory Recordings at the National Museum of American History”
Leslie J. Newville, “Development of the Phonograph at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory,” in Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, United States National Museum Bulletin 218, Paper 5 (1959): 69-79.
Currently not on view
Physical Description
fiberboard (overall material)
metal, foil (overall material)
plaster (overall material)
overall: 9 3/4 in; 24.765 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Dr. Alexander Graham Bell
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Hear My Voice
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History