This is pretty awesome (especially to a history nerd like me)
A few years ago they discovered a way to play back some French recordings from the 1860s in the form of "phonautograms". They weren't actually created with the intention of being played back but were made to visually record what different accents looked like..
But they actually were able to recreate the sounds and they were able to clean them up to where you can hear the voices of people from 1860:
..so NOW they've recently figured out how to play a slew of other recordings from the 1880s. Now these were meant to be played back but apparently they have hundreds of discs and cylinders that they can convert now. The problem in the past was trying to play them without damaging them.
I still can't decide if this is as cool as the Edison films from the 1800s
but if not it's up there.
Edited, Dec 30th 2011 12:27pm by Kelvyquayo