The Vienna Phonogrammarchiv was established by the institution then known as the Imperial Academy of Sciences in 1899 and is the oldest archive of sound in the world. Over the course of its more than 100 years of existence, the archive’s collection has grown to include more than 50,000 recordings, totalling approximately 7,000 hours of playing time. The recordings come from various different parts of the world and document traditions and forms of expression that have been passed down, such as languages, dialects and music.
The sound recordings were produced primarily for research purposes. At the start of the 20th century, technological advancements in this area still did not allow for quantitatively extensive collections of sound recordings. It was not until the 1950s that the discovery of the tape recording and portable tape recorders made it possible to integrate sound records into the research routine.
The Phonogrammarchiv’s collection is one of the most comprehensive of its kind. Together with the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv, the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv is home to one of the few examples of early phonographic collections in the world. These recordings are proof of cultural heritage, many are the oldest of their kind and are thus unique.