Even I am not old enough to have actually experienced wax cylinder recordings, but in the very early days that was what they had - and it worked, at least for a few times until the cylinders wore out. The University of California, Santa Barbara library is in the process of digitizing thousands of these recordings before they are completely lost, and are making them available online.
The recording quality is mostly pretty bad of course given the technology and the decades that have passed, but talk about living history! There are already 10,000 recordings online, with more to come.
The earliest wax cylinders were only able to be played about a dozen or so times before the wax wore out, but the pliability of the material meant that users could also record their own material. It also makes the cylinders difficult to digitize and store.
UCSB says there are 2,000 more cylinders yet to come, and it's allowing benefactors to adopt a cylinder for $60, which will be used for the upkeep and further digitization of the collection.CNET
|Nipper hears something familiar|