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Website of the Week — Tinfoil.com


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

This week, it's the work of an enthusiast who uses today's technology, the Internet, to share with the world his fascination with a state-of-the-art technology from more than 100 years ago.

SAGE: "So at Tinfoil.com I try to preserve the earliest sound recordings — the earliest generations of sound recordings, the wax cylinders. And the recordings on these early wax cylinders are pretty much almost all one-of-a-kind. So what we have here are audio time capsules that need to be preserved."

Glenn Sage is the man behind Tinfoil.com, a website named for the material used in the very earliest recordings. His site mainly focuses on a slightly later era, just a few years later, when brown wax cylinders were the medium of choice.

MUSIC: “Consentida” performed by Orquesta Tipica Lerdo (1904)

Today, we take it for granted that music is available everywhere, and Sage says it's easy to forget how extraordinary it was, when most people heard their first recordings at the end of the 19th century in commercial listening parlors.

SAGE: "They were initially available to the public primarily through nickelodeons - arcade-like settings where somebody would place a phonograph with a coin-in-the-slot mechanism. You'd come in there and put a coin in the slot, you'd place hearing tubes almost looking like a stethoscope in your ears, and you'd be able to hear a two and a half minute sound recording, which of course just blew most people away. It was quite an amusement."

Glenn Sage makes modern digital recordings of the old cylinders and posts a new one each month. His now-substantial archive provides a fascinating glimpse into the range of mostly-forgotten culture of a century ago.

SAGE: "There's a wide variety of sound recordings from experimental recordings, speeches, band recordings. There's just a wide variety. And the cylinder of the month has been going on since 1996, and so there's well over a hundred full-length, two-minute sound recordings that anyone can hear. And there's several historical recordings in there. And there's also just a lot of great entertainment.

The site has plenty of history and information, but the recordings themselves are the real attraction at tinfoil.com, or get the link from our site, VOAnews.com.

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