Smithsonian Scientists Restore Recording Of Alexander Graham Bell

Scientists working with the Smithsonian Institution have managed to successfully restore a recording that contains the voice of Alexander Graham Bell:

On a wax disc recording from 1885 held by the Smithsonian Institution, Bell can be heard saying, “Hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell,” the Associated Press reports. The discovery was announced Wednesday.

The Smithsonian holds a variety of experiments in sound recording from Bell’s Volta Laboratory in Washington, including the wax disc. Technicians from the Library of Congress and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California collaborated with the museum to identify Bell’s voice.

Here’s the recording:

Very cool.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    I hope they keep working on it.

  2. Kenny says:

    Talk about your bad cell signal, eh?

  3. Franklin says:

    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Graham pronounced with two syllables.

  4. Considering the fact we’re talking about a 128 year old recording, it’s a wonder they were able to recover anything

  5. Kenny says:

    Very true, Doug, it is an amazing art and technique.

    I watched a program on History or Discovery a few years ago that was centered on these folks’ colleagues — or perhaps these people. The concept was “The 20th century was the century of recording. The 21st century is the century of preserving.”

    Maybe the 22nd century will be the century of uninstagraming every picture on the old web.

  6. @Kenny:

    Maybe the 22nd century will be the century of uninstagraming every picture on the old web.

    And ridding the Internet of all those duckface photos of people’s Grandmothers when they were teenagers.