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About the history of sound recording

Today, the main recording methods include:
– mechanical
– magnetic
– optical and magneto-optical sound recording
– solid state flash memory recording

Attempts to create devices that could reproduce sounds were made in ancient Greece. In the IV-II centuries BC e. there were theaters of self-propelled figures – androids. The movements of some of them were accompanied by mechanically extracted sounds, folding in a melody.

In the Renaissance, a number of different mechanical musical instruments were created that reproduce a particular melody at the right time: barrel organ, music boxes, boxes, snuff boxes.

Musical organ-grinder works as follows. Sounds are created using thin steel plates of various lengths and thicknesses placed in an acoustic box. To extract sound, use a special drum with protruding pins, the location of which on the surface of the drum corresponds to the intended melody. With a uniform rotation of the drum, the pins touch the plates in the given sequence. By rearranging the pins to other places, you can change the melody. The organ grinder drives the barrel organ by turning the handle.

In music boxes, a metal disc is used to pre-record the melody, on which a deep spiral groove is applied. In certain places of the groove, point recesses are made – pits, the location of which corresponds to the melody. When the disk is driven by a clockwork spring movement, a special metal needle slides along the groove and “reads” the sequence of points applied. The needle is attached to the membrane, which makes a sound when the needle hits the groove.

In the Middle Ages, chimes were created – tower or large room clocks with a musical mechanism, emitting a battle in a specific melodic sequence of tones or performing small pieces of music. These are the Kremlin chimes and Big Ben in London.

Musical mechanical instruments are just machines that reproduce artificially created sounds. The task of preserving for a long time the sounds of living life was solved much later.

Many centuries before the invention of mechanical sound recording, musical notation appeared – a graphic way of depicting musical works on paper (Fig. 1). In ancient times, melodies were written in letters, and modern musical notation (with the designation of the pitch, duration of tones, tonality and musical rulers) began to develop from the 12th century. At the end of the 15th century, typography was invented when notes began to be printed from a set, like books.

About the history of sound recording (History of sound recording)

It was possible to record and then play back the recorded sounds only in the second half of the 19th century after the invention of mechanical sound recording.

Mechanical sound recording

In 1877, the American scientist Thomas Alva Edison invented the sound recorder – a phonograph, for the first time allowing the sound of a human voice to be recorded. For mechanical recording and reproduction of sound, Edison used rollers coated with tin foil (Fig. 2). Such phonovals were hollow cylinders with a diameter of about 5 cm and a length of 12 cm.

Edison Thomas Alva (1847-1931), American inventor and entrepreneur.

The author of more than 1000 inventions in the field of electrical engineering and communications. Invented the world’s first sound recorder – a phonograph, improved an incandescent lamp, telegraph and telephone, built the world’s first public power station in 1882, and in 1883 discovered the phenomenon of thermionic emission, which subsequently led to the creation of electronic or radio tubes.

In the first phonograph, the metal roller rotated using the handle, with each revolution moving in the axial direction due to the screw thread on the drive shaft. Tin foil (stanyol) was superimposed on the roller. A steel needle connected to a parchment membrane touched it. A metal conical horn was attached to the membrane. When recording and playing sound, the roller had to be rotated manually at a speed of 1 revolution per minute. When the roller was rotating in the absence of sound, the needle squeezed a spiral groove (or groove) of constant depth on the foil. When the membrane oscillated, the needle was pressed into the tin in accordance with the perceived sound, creating a groove of variable depth. Thus was invented the method of “deep recording”.

During the first test of his apparatus, Edison tightly pulled the foil onto the cylinder, brought the needle to the surface of the cylinder, carefully began to rotate the pen and sang in the mouthpiece the first stanza of the children’s song “Mary had a sheep.” Then he pulled the needle, the handle returned the cylinder to its original position, put the needle into the groove drawn and began to rotate the cylinder again. And from the mouthpiece, a children’s song sounded quietly, but legibly.

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