1 In both the Bell and the Edison cases, the inventors had a partially functional
device before the moment of their “famous ﬁrst.”
2 Oliver Read and Walter L. Welch, From Tin Foil to Stereo: Evolution of the
Phonograph (New York: Herbert W. Sams, 1976), 4; Michael Chanan, Repeated
Takes: A Short History of Recording and Its Effects on Music (New York: Verso,
3 Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity
(New York: Penguin, 1992).
4 Alan Burdick, “Now Hear This: Listening Back on a Century of Sound,”
Harper’s Magazine 303, no. 1804 ( July 2001): 75.
5 For the sake of readability, I have largely kept with the standard practice of
using light and sight metaphors for knowledge. Replacing all these with
sonic metaphors would be largely a formalist exercise and of dubious value in
helping readers understand my argument.
6 For a full discussion of the status of vision in modern thought and the idea
that vision is central to the categories of modernity, see Martin Jay, Downcast
Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley
and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993); and David Michael
Levin, ed., Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision (Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California Press, 1993). See also Marshall McLuhan, The Gu-
tenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1962); Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology