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Modern Mysteries

Voices of the past revealed inside old dolls

By T.K. Randall
May 7, 2015 · Comment icon 21 comments



Edison alongside an early phonograph in 1877. Image Credit: Levin C. Handy
Early voice recordings from the 1880s have finally been played thanks to a new technique using computers.
The dolls were part of a line manufactured by Thomas Edisonís phonograph company at the end of the 19th century and each contained a special wax cylinder that could be played using a phonograph needle by turning a crank on its back.

Two of these rare dolls had been in the care of collectors Robin and Joan Rolfs for many years, but because using the needle to play them would have almost certainly damaged or even destroyed the cylinder it hadn't been possible to listen to what was on them.

Now however researchers at a government laboratory have developed a new technique that involves building up a map of the grooves on the cylinder and using software to simulate playback.
"The fear all along is that we donít want to damage these records," said Thomas Edison Historical Park curator Jerry Fabris. "Now we have the technology to play them safely."

The recordings, which were made over 120 years ago, turned out to be children's nursery rhymes.

"We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime," said Fabris.



Source: New York Times | Comments (21)




Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by freetoroam 9 years ago
Why would they be haunted? They would not, but guess if you can not get to ride the Carnesky`s ghost train on a daily basis to spook yourself out, then this is the next best thing. Pick anything old and bang a ghost story in it.
Comment icon #13 Posted by blitzen 9 years ago
creepy creepy creepy!! dolls are creepy enough without talking with century old voices!!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Zalmoxis 9 years ago
That's eerie. Notice how, when the recorded women say the rhymes, they avoid evenly metering out the nursery rhymes with a rhythm. It sounds intentional. They also sound like they got a ball in their throat.
Comment icon #15 Posted by coolguy 9 years ago
That's eerie and cool at the same time,little Jack Horner is going to give me nightmares lol
Comment icon #16 Posted by Billpacer 9 years ago
That's eerie. Notice how, when the recorded women say the rhymes, they avoid evenly metering out the nursery rhymes with a rhythm. It sounds intentional. They also sound like they got a ball in their throat. It is intentional. To convert sounds waves into mechanical vibration, for this type of recording required the user's to yell out what they what they were saying.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Chaldon 9 years ago
Somehow I don't feel anything "creepy" in these recordings. I really wonder why someone may think these wonerful child voices are scary. May be it's cause my mother was a dollmaker before the stroke and I heard a lot of old shellac recordings when I was a child at my grandpa's.
Comment icon #18 Posted by She-ra 9 years ago
Here's another article on this: Long before the masters of horror were using dolls in movies to scare the bejesus out of us, Thomas Edison unwittingly created one of the first -- and perhaps most terrifying -- talking dolls known to man. Read more and HEAR here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/11/thomas-edisons-talking-dolls_n_7259194.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news Weird
Comment icon #19 Posted by gillmanjoe 9 years ago
jesus christ thats creepy
Comment icon #20 Posted by Codenwarra 9 years ago
Meh
Comment icon #21 Posted by TripGun 9 years ago
Sounds like an EVP session.


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