from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One of the first phonographic recording devices, consisting of a horn or barrel focusing sound waves onto a membrane to which a hog's bristle was attached, causing the bristle to move so enabling it to inscribe a visual medium, which could transcribe sound to a visible medium but had no means to play back the sound after it was recorded.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument by means of which a sound can be made to produce a visible trace or record of itself. It consists essentially of a resonant vessel, usually of paraboloidal form, closed at one end by a flexible membrane. A stylus attached to some point of the membrane records the movements of the latter, as it vibrates, upon a moving cylinder or plate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An instrument for registering the vibrations of a sounding body.
  • n. Same as music-recorder.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • It was made on April 9, 1860, by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on a device called the phonautograph that scratched sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke of an oil lamp, Giovannoni said.

    March 2008 -

  • But the inventor hoped the visual patterns of the sound waves he had recorded using a hornlike device with the stylus attached resembling an artificial ear - called a phonautograph - might one day be read like sheet music to recreate a singer's voice or the timbre of a musical instrument.

    JMH Techtronics

  • Another would-be technical breakthrough was the Bell "phonautograph" of 1874, actually made out of a human cadaver's ear.

    The Hacker Crackdown

  • This historic recording was scratched onto a soot blackened piece of paper with a hand cranked device that Scott referred to as a "phonautograph".

    Word Magazine - Comments

  • Back in 1860, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville made the first ever recording, using a device called the "phonautograph".

  • I always discover something unusual or odd when browsing, like the fact that the acronym H. A.L, for the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is made up of the letters that precede I.B.M. In the alphabet, and that a sound recording technology, the phonautograph, has been discovered that predates Edison's by two decades.

    Jillian Burt: The Concept of Reuse Is Regenerating the Arts and Culture in Australia

  • His earliest known work is dated from 1860 and was not an effort to reproduce sound but to represent it graphically on a roll of paper using a device he called the “phonautograph”.

    2008 March

  • Tagged with Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, phonautograph, phonograph, sound recording, Thomas Edison

    2008 March

  • It's a visual record of sound, made by a device called a phonautograph.


  • In the mid-nineteenth century, there were several precursors, including Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville's phonautograph, a device that recorded sound vibrations as a printed pattern.

    Second Life


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  • Also termed a phonautogram, apparently.

    March 31, 2008

  • "The short song was captured on April 9, 1860 by a phonautograph, a device created by a Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville.

    The device etched representations of sound waves into paper covered in soot from a burning oil lamp.

    Lines were scratched into the soot by a needle moved by a diaphragm that responded to sound. The recordings were never intended to be played."

    - 'Oldest recorded voices sing again', BBC website, 28 March 2008.

    March 31, 2008