The digital recorders we use today can trace their history back to the 1870s. There were a number of inventors who built the foundation of audio technology, but one stands out.
On this date in 1877 Thomas Edison introduced his phonograph. The device was unique because it could both record and play sound.
What were his historic first words on the new machine? The original recording no longer exists, but he supposedly said hello, then read the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and ended with “ha ha.”
In 1940 actor Spencer Tracy gave us an idea of what Edison’s first recording was like.
The following 1933 newsreel features someone who worked with Edison and heard his historic “hello” and “ha.”
“In the end, they named it the phonograph. But it might have been called the omphlegraph, meaning ‘voice writer.’ Or the antiphone (back talker). Or the didasko phone (portable teacher).