The invention of sound recording has always been credited to Edison but inventer Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville beat Edison to it by a few decades; well sort of. Scott de Martinville found a way to record sound onto a lampblack-coated cylinder with his invention the Phonautograph. The intent was to capture a visual representation of sound for study but never to play it back. Reserchers David Giovannoni, Patrick Feaster, Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey have located some of the phonautograms and with the aid of modern technology have sucessfuly recoverd some of the earliest examples of recorded sound.
Scott de Martinville’s earliest attempts sound like squeaks but by 1860 he has improved his recording technique as can be heard in this fragment of a female voice singing Au Clair de la Lune, a french folk song. Although it’s very crude sounding it’s a major discovery in audio archeology of what is most likely the ealiest known recording of a human voice! (Recording courtesy First Sounds.)
For more information visit First Sounds.
Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville at Wikipedia