Euphonia was a bizarre sight to behold: a machine bearing a disembodied woman's head attached to bellows that reportedly spoke with a "sepulchral" voice. But it was also the most advanced talking machine of its day, one that may have links to the invention of the telephone.
Researchers from the Smithsonian have restored a 128 year-old recording of Alexander Graham Bell's voice from a wax-and-cardboard disc. It's our first opportunity to hear what the famous inventor actually sounded like.
In the 1880s, Alexander Graham Bell and his associates at Washington, DC's Volta Laboratory experimented with different methods of audio recording. These 19th century audio engineers immortalized snippets of nursery rhymes and a Shakespearean soliloquy to wax discs.
The ostensible topic of Seth Shulman's new book, The Telephone Gambit, is how Alexander Graham Bell cheated his way into owning the phone patent. Apparently Bell copied research from his chief rival for the lucrative patent, Elisha Gray. This revelation isn't particularly stunning in our era of patent litigation and…