The recording was made 17 years before Edison's famous recording of himself reciting 'Mary had a little lamb' in 1877 and 28 years before the first playable recording - a performance of a Handel oratorio at Crystal Palace in 1888.
The recording was discovered earlier this month at the French Academy of Sciences by David Gioavannoni, an "audio historian" who led the effort to find Scott's original "phonoautograms". Mr Giovannoni had found earlier recordings at a Paris patent office, dating back as early as 1857 but he told the newspaper that his "eureka moment" came when he found the immaculately preserved 1860 recording on a sheet of rag paper measuring nine inches by 29 inches. "It was pristine," Mr Giovannoni said. "The sound waves were remarkably clear and clean." (the sound is far from pristine but hey, who’s quibbling!). Mr Giovannoni sent scans of the recording to the Berkeley Lab where they were painstakingly converted into sound by scientists using technology designed to salvage historic recordings.
That technology allows the voice of a young French woman, recorded in Paris in the months before Abraham Lincoln's inauguration as President of the United States, to be heard again