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Early Devices Used to Capture Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)

Updated on December 4, 2014

Electronic voice phenomena, more commonly referred to as an EVP, have been a topic of debate and fascination for over 70 years. Today, trying to record an EVP is a normal occurrence in most paranormal investigations. Although electronic voice phenomena are still a topic of debate even today, the devices used to record an EVP in this day and age have made quite the advancements since the devices used in early attempts to communicate with the deceased.

From 1840 to 1920, spiritualism was at an all time high. There were a large number of people who believed in the existence of ghosts and spirits. These people wanted to find ways to communicate with those who are deceased. Several people would gather at night for table tipping, seances, and sessions with mediums in hopes to contact the dead. As time went on, they wanted to be able to record the voices of the deceased as a way to communicate and to validate the existence of life after death.

In 1941, an American photographer, Attila von Szalay, tried to record disembodied voices using a 78-rpm record. However, it wasn't until he switched to a reel-to-reel recording device, also known as a magnetophon, that he believed he finally captured a disembodied voice. He was later joined by Raymond Bayless in various recording sessions to try to capture the voices of the dead on tape. Their work was published in 1959 by the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.

RCA Victor improved the concept of the magnetophon in 1958 and made a more compact version that most people are familiar with a cassette tape. In 1962, Philips went a step further and made a more portable way of recording and listening to cassette tapes. This made trying to record possible EVPs a bit easier when it comes to transporting equipment.

Also in 1959, Friedrich Jurgenson, who was a film producer and painter, began recording birds singing. According to Friedrich Jurgenson, when he listened to his recording of the birds he could hear his father and wife talking to him. Both his father and his wife were deceased. Fascinated, he continued to make the recordings and claims to have eventually captured his deceased mother's voice.

Inspired by Friedrich Jurgenson's work, Konstantin Raudive did his own studies in capturing electronic voice phenomena. He conducted his experiments in an RF-screened laboratory. Konstantin Raudive also invited listeners to come and give their interpretations of his recordings. After over 100,000 recordings, he published his findings in a book entitled Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead in 1968. The book was later translated from Swedish to English in 1971.

In 1979, George Meeks and Bill O'Neil built the Spiricom, according to Dr. George Mueller's design plans he had left after Dr. Mueller had died. This massive radio-like device had thirteen tone generators. This was to allow spirits of the deceased to communicate. It made a horribly loud buzzing sound that filled the room. However, when Bill O'Neil spoke, you could hear him fine on the recording.

After a few months Dr. Mueller began communicating with Bill O'Neil. With the help of Dr. Mueller they developed the Spiricom further. Unfortunately, there are many people in the scientific community who believe O'Neil faked these recordings, thus making them all a hoax.

Upon entering the digital age in the 1990s, tape recorders have just about become a thing of the past. Most paranormal investigators prefer to use digital recorders. This makes it easier to rewind and listen at the location, as well as uploading to a computer.

Diagram of Spiricom Mark IV device
Diagram of Spiricom Mark IV device | Source

Franks Box, more commonly referred to today as the "Ghost Box" or "Spirit Box", was created by Frank Sumption in 2003. In essence, it is a modified digital radio. The Ghost Box uses the white noise of rapidly scanning AM and FM bands. This is said to allow the ghosts or spirits to talk through the white noise.

As the fascination with electronic voice phenomena grows, so will the interest in creating a device that will help capture clear voices from beyond the grave. Bill Chapell has created various versions of the Ovilus which has been featured on the show Ghost Adventures. Although the words sound digitized, they are still clearer than earlier EVP devices.

In 2010, Larry Odien made available his EVP Field Processor. EVP recording devices will continue to make advancements as the years go on. Perhaps one day there will be a device that will provide concrete proof that there truly is life beyond the grave.

© 2014 L Sarhan

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      Thoughthole 2 years ago

      Very informative & interesting article. I like the thread connecting the development of devices, & evolution of mind sets through time.

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