Who Invented Sound Recording?
Edison’s phonograph was also extraordinary. Not only did it record sounds, it allowed them to be reproduced at will. This was so astounding that the phonograph singularly established Edison’s international reputation as a prominent inventor.
Edison’s phonograph is widely remembered by historians as a triumph of 19th century innovation. But until recently Scott’s phonautograph was virtually forgotten. The modern rediscovery of Scott’s recordings in French archives, and their playback by American researchers, firmly establish Scott’s role in the history of sound recording. This website presentation recognizes Scott’s achievement on the bicentennial of his birth.
Edison was unaware of Scott’s success as he undertook experiments that led to the phonograph. He was also unaware of an idea put forward by another Parisian, which leads to the question:
Who Invented Sound Reproduction?
Like sound recording, sound reproduction (or “playback”) was independently conceived in France and the United States. Parisian Charles Cros jotted down a proposal to play back the sounds stored in Scott’s recordings just weeks before Edison first expressed his idea for the phonograph. However, unlike Scott and Edison, Cros never made a machine to prove his concept, nor did others who tried. Cros’ idea was a proposed process and not a realized machine. Still, Cros is recognized for conceiving of sound reproduction before Edison.
Learn more about each inventor:
Go back to The Origins of Sound Recording opening page.
Last updated: July 17, 2017