The World’s First Recording Engineer

Today the science section of the New York Times described the process of “bringing back to life” a group of wax cylinders recorded between 1889 and 1890. The cylinders were originally from Edison’s lab (apparently he kept them stowed away in a box underneath a cot he took naps on), and until recently no one had any idea what was on them. The origins of the recordings include one Adelbert Theodor Edward Wangemann, who based on the Times description, is basically the forefather to George Martin, Eddie Kramer, and Rick Rubin:

The lid of the box held an important clue. It had been scratched with the words “Wangemann. Edison.”

The first name refers to Adelbert Theodor Edward Wangemann, who joined the laboratory in 1888, assigned to transform Edison’s newly perfected wax cylinder phonograph into a marketable device for listening to music. Wangemann became expert in such strategies as positioning musicians around the recording horn in a way to maximize sound quality.

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