Alexander Graham Bell’s innovative ideas provided a foundation for communication technology that is still used today. Soon after obtaining a patent for the telephone, Bell moved his lab to Washington, D.C., where he went on to develop a number of other inventions. Hundreds of experimental audio recordings were left behind by Bell and two other famous inventors―Thomas Edison and Emile Berliner―and donated to the Smithsonian, where they sat untouched for decades.

Happy Birthday, Alexander Graham Bell! shareable image

One hundred thirty years later, new technology is helping scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Library of Congress recover these fascinating recordings. Using advanced computer and camera technology, scientists developed high resolution digital images of the original discs, which were then processed to correct scratches and other damage. After the digital scans were complete, special software reproduced the audio content to create a digital sound file, revealing the voices of men from Bell’s time, and even perhaps Bell himself!

What other technologies can help us learn about our history?

Last Updated Date