The voice of Edison via shaking light sound

thomas edison pallophotophoneDead or near-dead media formats: wax cylinders, 8-tracks, cassettes, floppy discs, CDs (almost) and... the pallophotophone.

The pallophotowhat?

From the GE Reports blog:

A pile of dusty film canisters in the basement of the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium has yielded some of the world's oldest surviving radio broadcasts. The 20 shows were first heard on Schenectady radio station WGY between 1929 and 1931. One features a talk by GE founder Thomas Edison in a broadcast celebrating the 50th anniversary of the incandescent light bulb. Another is a portion of a high school basketball game that's believed to be the second oldest surviving sports broadcast.
They were recorded on a long forgotten machine that GE developed in 1922 called a pallophotophone -- after the Greek words for "shaking light sound" -- in one of the earliest attempts to record sound on film. But there was only one catch with the great find: There weren't any known pallophotophones in existence to play back the lost pieces of history.
Enter the museum's curator, Chris Hunter, and GE's engineers, who together cracked the pallophotophone code.

How? The engineers built a whole new machine out of modern parts to read the media.

The post includes a photo of the new machine and audio from one of the Edison recordings.

Earlier on AOA: The new old Daily Gazette

photo: Schenectady Museum via GE Reports

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