What is sound? Sounds are really just rapidly vibrating waves in the air. Those waves make our eardrums vibrate, but instead of feeling the vibrations, our brains translate them into sounds. Translating waves from one form to another is also a key to understanding sound recording technologies. In the 1800s, many scientists studied sound waves and human hearing. Some of them, such as Eduoard-Leon Scott de Martinville and Alexander Graham Bell, constructed machines called Phonautographs to capture the waves and translate them into visible form—drawings on paper or on a sheet of smoked glass.
More at http://www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/exhibit/exhibit.php?id=159246&lid=1
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