14 August 2016
One of the first ever audio recordings was made on 14 August 1888
On this day in history, 1888: One of the first ever audio recordings was made. It was Arthur Sullivan’s ‘The Lost Chord’ and was recorded on Thomas Edison’s phonograph. Sullivan had composed the song while waiting by the bedside of his dying brother Fred. In 1912 it was performed as part of a benefit concert to raise money for the families of those who perished in the sinking of the Titanic, and it has remained one of Sullivan’s most well-loved compositions.
Interestingly Edison had invented his phonograph in 1877, the same year that Sullivan composed his song – but 11 years were to pass before they made their recording. To learn more about the inventions and audio technology of the era ‘The Timeline of Music and Media Technology’ at www.classicthemes.com/technologyTimeline.html is a web page well worth visiting – and you can spot the place of other household-name inventors in this listing too: Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell and Gugliemo Marconi to name a few.
Pictured: This early Edison phonograph is an exhibit at the Deaf Smith County Historical Museum; complete with charming vintage floral paintwork. You can listen to a 1913 recording of ‘The Lost Chord’ at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Chord.