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Catalog Data

Physical Description:
brass (overall material)
wax (overall material)
overall: 1/4 in x 10 7/8 in; .635 cm x 27.6225 cm
Object Name:
experimental sound recording disc
This is an experimental sound recording made in the Volta Laboratory, Washington, D.C., about 1884. The wax, poured into a brass holder, has been dyed a bright green.
Sound was recovered from this recording in 2011.
Content summary: Hamlet’s soliloquy
Content transcript (17 seconds):
“To be, or not to be: that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die, to sleep…”
<a href="">Patrick Feaster, “A Discography of Volta Laboratory Recordings at the National Museum of American History” </a>
Leslie J. Newville, “Development of the Phonograph at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory,” in Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, United States National Museum Bulletin 218, Paper 5 (1959): 69-79.
<a href="">Steven E. Schoenherr, “Charles Sumner Tainter and the Graphophone,”</a>
Wile, Raymond R. "The Development of Sound Recording at the Volta Laboratory," Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal 21, No. 2, 1990, pp. 208-225.
Currently not on view
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Credit Line:
Dr. Alexander Graham Bell
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Work and Industry: Mechanisms
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Computers & Business Machines
Data Source:
National Museum of American History