Technology Saves Recordings of the Past from Eternal Silence

Carl Haber has won wide recognition, and a MacArthur Fellowship, for a revolutionary image-scanning technology that has the power to pull sound from rare and fragile recordings without touching them, and in so doing, to help protect some of the most vulnerable corners of this country’s aural heritage. Haber and his colleagues named their technology Image Reconstruct Erase Noise Etcetera, but nobody calls it that. Instead they use the acronym that was coined in tribute to that first 78: IRENE.

Over the last decade, scientists, audio historians, and museum curators around the country have together harnessed IRENE to make a slew of sensational discoveries. Among them was the first playback of one of the world’s earliest recordings of a human voice: a Frenchman singing “Au Claire de la Lune” in 1860, almost two decades before Edison invented the phonograph. Another discovery was the only known example of Alexander Graham Bell’s voice, recorded in 1885, stating with clarity and audible pride: “Hear my voice: Alexander Graham Bell.”

You can read the full story in an article by Jeremy Eichler in the Boston Globe at:

My thanks to newsletter reader Pierre Clouthier for telling me about this story.

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