We may not know for sure who shot JFK, but most people are pretty clear on who recorded the shooting. It was Abraham Zapruder with his Bell & Howell Zoomatic, standing on a concrete pedestal up on Elm Street. Over 486 frames of 8mm Kodachrome, Zapruder shot maybe the most famous, the most studiously examined 26.6 seconds in all of cinema. It’s been used in countless documentaries, late night specials – even Oliver Stone’s (1991) feature film JFK.
Often you’ll see the footage with what seems like synchronised sound. But a Bell & Howell Zoomatic doesn’t record sound.
That soundtrack you sometimes hear comes from two sources, both of them police radio channels recorded onto Gray Audograph and Dictabelt formats. The Dictabelt recording was released as a free flexidisc by the adult magazine Gallery with its July 1979 issue. But only in 2005 did archivists set about properly digitising and restoring it at the National Archives in Washington. As of 2008, the task was still ongoing …..
Listen to sounds from the British Library collection and submit your own recordings here