This 123-year-old audio clip of a woman reciting the first verse of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” may sound terribly scratchy — but it’s music to the ears of sound historians.
This earliest-known American recording of a woman’s voice and the first sound recording intended for commercial use was posted online last week by the National Parks Service.
The historic track was discovered in 1967 in Thomas Edison’s former laboratory — now a museum — in West Orange, N.J., where the inventor had embarked on a talking doll business in the 1880s. The recording was meant to give voice to a children’s toy. When found, the record was severely damaged and presumed to never be heard again.
But thanks to a collaboration between Thomas Edison museum curator Jerry Fabris and scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, Edison’s young nursery rhyme reciter once again has a voice.