The Origins of EVP: A Short History

Thomas Edison

As the Spiritualist movement became more prominent between the 1840’s and the 1940’s, the belief that spirits of the deceased could be contacted by mediums became more widespread. In addition, new technologies of the era were developed in an effort to demonstrate contact with the spirit world. Among those were the use of sound recordings. The more widespread this new technology became, mediums, and others, explored the use of technology as well.

Later, with the decline of Spiritualism in the 20th Century, attempts to create and use recording devices and modern digital technologies for communication with the deceased have continued. The term Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) was coined by Ernst Senkowski in the 1970’s to refer to communication through any sort of electronic device between the discarnate entities and the living. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is the event in which human-sounding voices, coming from an unknown source, can be heard through recorded data or electronic media.

For more information about EVP’s, click here.

I don’t think anyone would deny that computers and electronics have revolutionized life on this planet. It is also a fair assessment that we are only at the beginning of where this remarkable revolution will take us. Serious and casual researchers are claiming that this advanced technology is becoming more and more useful in contacting the dead or in allowing the dead to contact us.

Investigators and researchers from all over the world are trying to better understand the phenomena of EVP and ITC, aspiring to explain, in one form or another, how these voices are recorded on audio tape or television screens, where phantom phone calls come from, or even how computers can relay messages from “Beyond The Grave“. ( See what I did there?)

Here are some interesting origins of EVP: A short history lesson

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison:

While it may not be common knowledge, Thomas Edison is believed to have attempted to invent a device capable of communicating with the dead. Thomas Edison was notably considered a superstar of his time as a brilliant inventor during the height of the Industrial Revolution. He is quoted as saying the following;

“I have been at work for some time building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us.”

Thomas Edison – interview in an October 1920 issue of ‘The American Magazine”

“I have been thinking for some time of a machine or apparatus which could be operated by personalities which have passed on to another existence or sphere.”

Thomas Edison – interview in an October 1920 issue of “Scientific America”

While it is quite clear that Thomas Edison had a genuine interest in the idea of spirit communication, did he really invent a machine to do so? Since there is no evidence that such a device had been constructed, or even designed, it is natural to conclude that plan never materialized.

However, what is uniquely interesting about Edison and his discussion of ideas surrounding spirit communication, was his reasoning on whether it is even possible at all, and that it came from a place of scientific means. Operating at opposite ends of the spectrum during this time was The Spiritualist Movement and the Industrial Revolution (largely scientific). These movements operated at opposite ends of the spectrum – the logical, scientific, and mechanical versus the spiritual and ephemeral.

Edison took a scientific approach to come up with results to do the job that mediums advertised. Albeit he was not successful in doing so.

Charles Drayton Thomas

Charles Drayton Thomas:

In the 1940’s, while investigating the abilities of Gladys Osborne Leonard ( a well known medium during her time), Reverend Drayton Thomas claimed to have captured the voices of disembodied spirits on tape. He later went on to identify one of those voices to be that of his father. Thomas became known for his involvement in the Bobby Newlove case, a famous proxy seance sitting with Gladys Leonard.

Attila Von Szalay and Raymond Bayless

Attila Von Szalay and Raymond Bayless:

American photographer Attila Von Szalay, attempted to capture spirit voices by using a 78-RPM Pack-Bell record-cutter and player in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s, according to various accounts. His efforts were met with little success. Szalay later continued his experiments when he teamed up with psychologist Raymond Bayless in the 1950’s. This time they used a device Bayless devised and constructed which yeilded better results.

Father Pellegrino Ernetti

Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli:

While trying to record a Gregorian Chant in 1952 on a reel-to-reel tape recorder called a megnetophone, their wire in their equipment kept breaking. Frustrated and out of desperation, Father Gemelli called out to his deceased father for help. To their amazement, the fathers voice was heard on the recording as saying, “Of course I shall help you. I’m always with you.” Further experiments confirmed the phenomena. Pope Pius XII reportedly accepted the genuineness of this phenomenon.

Friedrich Jurgenson

Friedrich Jürgenson:

Swedish film producer, Freidrich Jürgenson, was recording bird songs in 1959. It wasn’t until upon playback that he could hear his mother’s voice speaking in German, “Friedrich, you are being watched. Friedel, my little Friedel, can you hear me?” Subsequently he recorded hundreds of such voices. Because of his captures, he earned the title of “The Father of EVP.” He wrote two books on the subject of EVP titled: “Voices from the Universe” and “Radio Contact with the Dead.”

Konstantin Raudive

Konstantin Raudive:

Another pioneer of EVP was Konstantin Raudive, a Swedish psychology professor. Jürgenson’s work came to the attention of Dr. Raudive in the 1960’s. He was initially skeptical and started his own experiments in 1967. Raudive also recorded the voice of his deceased mother saying, “Kostulit, this is your mother.” (Kostulit was the name his mother would call him as a child.) He has recorded thousands of EVP voices.

The Spiricom device, operated (above) by Bill O’Neil and funded by George Meek (left) founder of Metascience, provided 20 hours of fairly clear dialog with spirit friends, especially the spirit of a late college psychics teacher, George Jeffries Mueller (right), between 1979 and 1982.

George Meek:

Spiritual researcher, George Meek, had recorded hundreds of hours of EVP recordings using radio oscillators in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. George Meek, a director of the MetaScience Foundation in Franklin, North Carolina, has said that more than 25 times he has spoken to Dr. George J. Mueller, an electrical engineer who had passed away in 1967 of a heart attack. Reportedly, the late Dr. Mueller told Meeks where to locate his birth certificate and death certificate records. Supposedly it checked out.

Frank Sumpton

Frank Sumpton:

The first “Ghost Box Hack” was created by Frank Sumpton in the 1990’s after becoming inspired by an electronics article on spirit communication in 1995. Thus he began experimenting with EVP-maker software. As a result he invented “Frank’s Box” by utilizing a rewired AM radio. His device was a simple method of “supplying raw” audio that spirits and other entities can use to form voices. It does this with a specially modified radio that sweeps its tuning across AM, FM, or shortwave bands.

P-SB7 Spirit Box

Others soon followed suit with their own versions of the spirit box. Most notable are the “Andy’s box” and the PSB-7 Spirit Box. We (Beyond The Grave Paranormal Investigations) happen to use the PSB-7 Spirit Box during our research and investigations, among other EVP and ITC devices.

The PSB-7 Spirit Box was invented by Gary Galka in an attempt to communicate with his daughter after she tragically died in a car accident.


Most researchers today are convinced in the phenomena of receiving and recording spirit voices. Many spirit box responses and EVP’s are not noticeable in real time, but some can be heard quite clearly on-site. EVP and ITC continue to be experimented with by a large number of individuals, organizations, and paranormal researchers.

For more information on EVP, click here.

In conclusion, I’d like to end this brief history lesson with a quote from the brilliant mind of Thomas Edison.

“I do hope that our personality survives. If it does, then my apparatus ought to be of some use. That is why I am now at work on the most sensitive apparatus I have ever undertaken to build, and I await the results with the keenest interest.”

-Thomas Edison

Unfortunately we never got to bear witness to what Edison wanted to build. Considering the remarkable track record of this incredible mind, we can only wonder how the world would be had Edison somehow succeeded. What do you think he would think of our modern day technology and the means in which we now contact the spirit world?

I hope you find this article informative! As always, drop a comment with your thoughts. Happy hunting from Dawn Gervais at “Beyond The Grave Paranormal Investigations.”

Follow Beyond The Grave on Facebook!

Disclaimer: This article does contain affiliate links that we may, or may not, make a small commission on at absolutely no additional cost to you. Any commissions that we may make goes to the upkeep of our equipment, and travel expenses to locations we investigate.

Dawn Gervais Education , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *