A third recording catches perhaps the first sound of disappointment as Bell's recording device seemed to hit a technical glitch.
"Mary had a little lamb and its fleece was white as snow," a voice says. "Everywhere that Mary went — Oh no!"
On Nov. 17, 1884, Bell's lab recorded the word "barometer" several times on a glass disc with a beam of light. It and about 200 other experimental records were packed up and given to the Smithsonian, seemingly never to be played again.
The recordings date back to the 1880s. Bell had moved from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington after obtaining a patent on March 10, 1876, for his invention of the telephone, which occurred when his employee Thomas Watson heard him shouting over a wire in the next room. He joined a growing group of scientists who made the nation's capital a hotbed for innovations.
During this time, Bell sent the first wireless telephone message on a beam of light from the roof of a downtown Washington building, a forerunner to modern fiber optics. He and other inventors also were scrambling to record sound on anything they could find, including glass, rubber and metal. One early sound record looks like a smashed soup can.