Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, who recorded sounds on soot-blackened paper on April 9, 1860, using a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently were able to play them back (group led by David Giovannoni, an American audio historian).
Giovannoni found recordings from 1857 and 1859 that were included by Scott in his phonautograph patent application, and which were preserved at the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle in Paris. These recordings did not yield audio playback.
However, the April 1860 phonautogram was found at the French Academy of Sciences, and was separated into 16 tracks, which Mr. Giovannoni, Mr. Feaster and Mr. Martin stitched back together, making adjustments for variations in the speed of Scott’s hand-cranked recording.
The New York Times website allows one to listen to an mp3 of the 1860 phonautogram.
[IPBiz noticed a posting on patenthawk.]