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1807 __ « A course of lectures on natural philosophy and mechanical arts » — Vibrograph
Thomas Young (1773-1829)
Comment : Thomas Young was the first to demonstrate that sound is formed by the vibration of air. In 1807, his device, which he called a Vibrograph, traced the movement of a tuning fork against a revolving smoke blackened cylinder. It is interesting to note the early use of a cylinder to record such movement.In 1807 Thomas Young (Lectures, i. 191) described a method of recording the vibrations of a tuning-fork on the surface of a drum; his method was fully carried out by Wilhelm Wertheim in 1842 (Recherches sur l'elasticite, t er mem.). Recording the vibrations of a membrane was first accomplished by Leon Scott in 1857 by the invention of the "phonautograph," which may be regarded as the precursor of the phonograph (Comptes rendus, 53, p. 108). This instrument consisted of a thin membrane to which a delicate lever was attached. The membrane was stretched over the narrow end of an irregularly-shaped funnel or drum, while the end of the lever or marker was brought against the surface of a cylinder covered with paper on which soot had been deposited from a flame of turpentine or camphor. The cylinder was fixed on a fine screw moving horizontally when the cylinder was rotated. The marker thus described a spiral line on the blackened surface. When sounds were transmitted to the membrane and the cylinder was rotated the oscillatithm of the marker were recorded. Thus tracings of vibrations were obtained. This instrument was much improved by Karl Rudolph Koenig, of Paris, who also made with it many valuable observations. (See Nature, Dec. 26, 1901, p. 184). The mechanism of the recording lever or marker was improved by William Henry Barlow, in 1874, in an instrument called by him the "logograph" (Trans. Roy. Soc., 1874). The next step was Kbnig's invention of manometric flames by which the oscillations of a thin membrane under sound-pressures acted on a small reservoir of gas connected with a flame, and the oscillations were viewed in a rotating rectangular mirror, according to a method devised by Charles Wheatstone: Thus flamepictures of the vibrations of sound were obtained (Pogg. Ann., 1864, cxxii. 242, 660; see also Quelques experiences d'acoustique, Paris, 1882). Clarence Blake in 1876 employed the drumhead of the human ear as a logograph, and thus obtained tracings similar to those made by artificial membranes and disks (Archiv. für Ophthalmol., 1876, v. i.). In the same year Sigmund Theodor Stein photographed the vibrations of tuning-forks, violin strings, &c. (Pogg. Ann., 1876, p. 142). Thus from Thomas Young downwards successful efforts had been made to record graphically on moving surfaces the vibrations of sounds, but the sounds so recorded could not be reproduced. This was accomplished by T. A. Edison in 1876, the first patent being dated January 1877. (Based on the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica)pub. 1911).Experiments with sound waves grew more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as new laboratory devices were invented to measure or study many aspectes of sound vibrations. For example, Jean-Marie Constant Duhamel (1797-1872), a French scientist, discovered that by strapping a pen to an ordinary tuning fork and then tapping the fork, the pen would scribe a wiggly line on a piece of paper. For the first time, it was possible to see what a sound wave might look like. An English physicist, Thomas Young, in 1806, applied Duhamel's apparatus to a rotating cylinder coated with wax, in an experiment that would presage later versions of the phonograph. (David Morton)In his 1800 paper, Thomas Young had discussed the state of affairs when two sound beams cross one another ("the coalescence of musical sounds"). He criticized the work of an earlier author, one Smith, who maintained that the two intersecting beams crossed one another "without affecting the same individual articles of air by their joint forces". Young adds, "undoubtedly they cross without disturbing each other's progress, but this can be no otherwise effected than by each particle's partaking of both motions". This, of course, follows from the principle of superposition, but that principle had not yet been, formulated. (Robert Thomas Beyer)Thomas Young had discovered that when a string, 100 cms. long, is plucked at a distance 100/n the harmonic numbering ‘n’ will be missing. This is called as the Thomas Young rule. He also stated that it is better to pluck at the length of 1/5 or 1/6 of the total length. To overcome this missing harmonic the bridge of the Sitar is specially designed with a curve of a parabola.
French comment : En 1807, Thomas Young présente un cylindre animé d'un mouvement rotatif, recouvert de noir de fumée, et capable d'inscrire des vibrations.Distancés par les poètes, les savants se montrèrent plus méthodiques cependant, en consacrant leurs premiers efforts à l'inscription du son. Le physicien anglais Thomas Young réussit, en 1807, à enregistrer les vibrations acoustiques avec un appareil dont il a donné la description dans "A course of lectures on natural philosophy and mechanical arts". En 1807, le savant anglais Thomas Young, physicien, médecin et linguiste polyglotte, inscrit les vibrations d’un diapason sur la surface d’un cylindre tournant enduit de noir de fumée. C’est le premier enregistrement attesté d’une manifestation sonore. On doit à Young, qui avait toutes les compétences pour mener des études sur les mécanismes de la parole, des travaux importants dont une théorie sur la production des voyelles. Pour cela, il va tenter d’appliquer ce qui sera appelé plus tard la méthode graphique à l’inscription du signal de parole. On sait qu’il fit plusieurs tentatives dans ce sens sans jamais aboutir, bien qu’il ne les ait jamais mentionnées. On ignore par quel dispositif Young remplaça le diapason pour tenter d’inscrire le signal de parole sur le cylindre mais c’est sur ce point que fut réalisé le saut technologique suivant, cinquante ans plus tard, par Léon Scott de Martinville. (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « Mon instrument peut servir sans difficulté à mesurer le nombre et l'amplitude des vibrations des corps sonores, en leur adaptant un style susceptible de décrire une trace ondulée sur un cylindre tournant. Ces vibrations peuvent servir aussi à mesurer, d'une façon très simple, de petits intervalles de temps. Si, en effet, l'on fait vibrer un corps dont les vibrations ont une certaine fréquence, pendant que le cylindre tourne, et si ces vibrations s'inscrivent sur le cylindre, la courbe ainsi tracée donnera la mesure exacte du temps pris par une partie de la révolution, de sorte que le mouvement d'un corps quelconque peut être mis en comparaison avec le nombre des oscillations marquées pendant le même temps que le corps vibrant. »
Source : Young, Thomas (1807), "A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and Mechanical Arts", Volume 1 Lecture XXXVIII, London: Printed for Taylor and Walton.
Source : Cœuroy, A., Clarence, G. (1932), "Le Phonographe en 1932", In La Revue de Paris, Paris, Bureaux de la Revue de Paris.
Source : Teston, Bernard (2006), "A la poursuite de la trace du signal de parole", Laboratoire Parole et Langage, UMR 6057 CNRS, Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence.
Source : Morton, David (2004), "Sound Recording : the life story of a technology", Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 2.
Source : Beyer, Robert Thomas (1998), "Sounds of Our Times: Two Hundred Years of Acoustics", Springer.
Urls : http://www.hervedavid.fr/francais/phono/Revue%20de%20Paris%201932.htm (last visited ) http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/17/37/27/PDF/2757.pdf (last visited )

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