Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Physical Description:
fiberboard (overall material)
metal, foil (overall material)
plaster (overall material)
overall: 9 3/4 in; 24.765 cm
Object Name:
experimental sound recording
This is an experimental sound recording made in the Volta Laboratory, Washington, D.C. In a ring around the center, it is marked with the initials for Sumner Tainter, one of the Volta Laboratory Associates, and a date: “S.T. Dec. 29th 1881.” This recording was copied from an 1881 master at an unknown later date.
Sound was recovered from this recording in 2013.
Content transcript: “…[indistinct] I am a magnetical graphophone. What are you? To be, or not to be: that is the question. [trilled r sounds] How is that for high?”
<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.
Currently not on view
Credit Line:
Dr. Alexander Graham Bell
ID Number:
Accession number:
Catalog number:
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Hear My Voice
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source:
National Museum of American History