NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1661 __ Distant discourse without noise made or notice taken
Edward Somerset (1601-1667)
Comment : Edward Somerset, second Marquis of Worcester, an English inventor, announced, in his “Century of Inventions”, that he has discovered « a method by which at a window as far as the eye can discover black from white, a man may hold discourse with his correspondent, without noise made or notice taken; being, according to occasion given, or means afforded, ex re nata, and no need of provision before-hand : though much better it foreseen, and course taken by mutual consent of parties ». This method, he asserts, he can put into practice « by night as well as by day, though as dark as pitch is black. ». (Paul Fleury Mottelay.)The precise operation of a true telegraph, when used in a longer chain of stations, however, had yet to be worked out. The basic ideas for maintaining a point-to-point conversation between two willing parties were well-known, but the essential methods for synchronization, and error control had yet to be thought of. Though Worcester printed his Inventions he was evidently anxious that unauthorised copyists should not plagiarise it and therefore gave no details. His method, however, used a rotating pointer the position of which defined the letter of the alphabet to be transmitted. (R.W. Burns)
French comment : Edward Somerset, deuxième marquis de Worcester (1601-1667), publia plusieurs livres traitant d’inventions et de mécanique. C’était une personnalité publique de premier plan, intéressée par les sciences, la mécanique et les mathématiques. Il fit de nombreuses suggestions utiles et participa à plusieurs améliorations, en particulier pour l’utilisation de la vapeur comme force motrice. Il prétend même être l’inventeur de la machine à vapeur. Dans le 56ème article de son livre, il décrit une roue à mouvement perpétuel. L’édition originale, “Un siècle d’invention”, ne présente aucune image de la machine décrite. (L’image qui est souvent publié comme la roue déséquilibrée de Somerset fut en réalité publiée plus tard, par Desaguliers, et date de 1720). L’esquisse ne révèle rien, car elle ne montre qu’une grande roue fermée avec un essieu relativement petit, autour duquel une corde est enroulée dans le but de soulever des poids et effectuer d’autres travaux mécaniques. (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « Section One.6.How at a Window, far as Eye can difcover [discern] black from white, a man may hold difcourfe with his Correfpondent, without noife made or notice taken; being, according to occafion given and means afforded, Ex re natâ and no need of Provifion before-hand; though much better if forefeen, and means prepared for it, and a premeditated courfe taken by mutual confent of parties.7.A way to do it by night as well as by day, though as dark as Pitch is black. [A mute and perfect discourse by colours.] [To hold the same by night.] These two may be ranked as the same system, the one used by day, the other illuminated to be conspicuous at night. As early as 1658, John Baptista Porta, in his " Natural Magick," entitled the last chapter of his 16th Book, " By night we may make signs by fire." We have here a simple system of telegraphy, the only examples afforded by the " Century," of this particular mode of correspondence. »
Source : Fleury Mottelay, Paul (1922), “Bibliographical History of Electricity and Magnetism, Chronologically Arranged”, Read Books (2008), p. 126.
Source : Burns, Russell W. (2004) "Communications: An International History of the Formative Years", London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, p. 32.
Urls : http://www.history.rochester.edu/steam/dircks/ (last visited )

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