10 Dec Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville
25 April 1817 – 26 April 1879
Well here’s someone who was one of those multi-talented types I’ve talked about earlier.
ELSdeM was a printer and a bookseller. That isn’t that unusual as Samuel Richardson was also a printer and bookseller, as well as writer of several decidely risque novels. The thing about ELSdeM was that he was also incredibly techie and slightly obsessed with recording voices and conversations.
Our hero was the inventor of the ‘phonautogram’. Apparently he was reading about, and look at images of, the human ear when he thought of trying to make a machine to ‘hear’. The end result was a machine that recorded sounds and as far as I can tell the first recording that has been found was made in 1857 and his machine was patented in France in that year.
If you follow the link below you can hear it all in action, that is if you can borrow an ear-trumpet, a twirly moustache and a red felt hat with a tassle on it.