NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1851 __ Telekouphonon
Francis Whishaw (1804-1856)
Comment : In 1851 a speaking tube was exhibited at the London Exhibition under the name of “telekouphononon” [sic. The exact name is ‘telekouphonon’]. The same manufacturer also displayed at the time an object thought to be a speaking trumpet, which he called the “Gutta Percha Telephone”. The word “telephone” does not seem to have been applied to speaking tubes in English, but there are at least two cases, in 1869 and 1871, where it was applied to ordinary speaking tubes in the German languages. All these devices, whether speaking trumpets, ear trumpets, or speaking tubes, worked on the principle of directly transmitting sound through air. (Avital Ronell, p. 300)The whistle of Whishaw's Improved Telekouphonon Registered Dec. 5 1855 Denhams & Proud Manufts. His original design was a poor man's patent' registered Design May 22, 1849. Some of these communication tube system whistles were used in Marine vessels and Taxi cabs as late as late 1930's and even early 1940's. Francis Whishaw’s widely publicized ‘telekouphonon’ was a long, flexible gutta-percha tube with an ivory or metal mouth-piece and removable whistle at either end through which people spoke with others up to three-quarters of a mile away. Scarcely an original invention it proved very successful in the 1850s domestically, in hotels, in clubs and in business houses, It was imitated by many others although he obtained a “poor man’s patent”, a Registered Design, for it on May 22, 1849. This is the ‘compound terminal’ with a mouthpiece holding a removable whistle alarm and an acoustic duct “so that a conversation may be carried on without moving the mouth until the communication is completed”. The duct or earpiece has an indicator that pops out when the whistle is blown by the distant correspondent.The General Telegraph Company, a simple partnership not a joint-stock concern, was promoted in October 1848 by Francis Whishaw, the civil engineer who had written so much about Cooke & Wheatstone’s apparatus, “to execute, by contract or otherwise, the most approved electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical telegraphs”. He had publicised a hydraulic telegraph in 1838 but abandoned that and had been employed by Royal Society of Arts & Sciences before joining the Electric Telegraph Company between 1845 and 1848 to manage the correspondence or message department. Whishaw devised the translation system used in abbreviating the Company’s messages. He also introduced the sending of a time signal from London to the provincial offices once each day so that telegraph clocks might be set. At the Royal Society Whishaw was introduced to the new insulating resin, gutta-percha. He became a strong advocate for its use in telegraphy. In 1844 he presented the case for its use at a lecture attended by William Siemens, then working in Birmingham in England. On leaving the Electric, Whishaw opened showrooms at 9 John Street, Adelphi, opposite his former employers at the Royal Society of Arts, off the Strand in London, during November 1848. Here he displayed and demonstrated several instruments, including a non-electric mechanical dial telegraph, a hydraulic telegraph, mechanically-connected clocks, an electric burlar alarm, gutta-percha insulation for electric wires, the chain-pipe for protecting submarine circuits, and the ‘telekouphonon’ (or speaking telegraph). The ordinary mouthpiece with a whistle to gain attention. Where several were employed together the indicator pops out when the whistle is blown by the distant correspondent. Whishaw’s widely-publicized ‘telekouphonon’ was simply a long, flexible gutta-percha tube with a rigid mouth-piece and removable whistle at either end through which people spoke with others up to three-quarters of a mile away: in detail it was described in 1851 as “consisting of gutta-percha, glass, metal, or other tubing, with mouthpieces of ivory, hardwood or metal; furnished with whistles, organ-pipes, and other means of calling attention. The index mouthpiece attached to one end of the tube has an indicator to show from which room the call as been made.” It was also recommended as a Railway Train Communicator, “for communicating between guard and driver, or passengers and driver, a ‘telekouphonon’, in different lengths, with screw joints to suit the lengths of carriages and the spaces between them.” Scarcely an original invention the ‘telekouphonon’ proved very successful in the 1850s domestically, in hotels, in clubs and in business houses, where batteries of such speaking telegraphs were employed to connect distant departments. It was imitated by many others although Whishaw obtained a “poor man’s patent”, a Registered Design, for it on May 22, 1849. Whishaw's Telekouphonon 1851 : The ‘compound terminal’, the mouthpiece holding a removable whistle alarm and an ‘acoustic duct’ or earpiece with the plug-in, pop-out indicator, “so that a conversation may be carried on without moving the mouth until the communication is completed”. In the 1860s the ‘telekouphonon’ was expensive; made by Benham & Froud, 40-42 Chandos Street, Charing Cross, it cost 1s 5d a foot for its ¾ inch diameter gutta percha tube covered in coloured worsted fabric; ivory mouthpieces were 6s 0d, or in wood and brass 3s 0d, each; and brass connecting screws 1s 0d each. Whishaw had the major clockmaker, John Smith & Sons, of 2 & 18 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, manufacture the immensely complex “Uniformity of time clock and telegraph” in 1848 in competition with Cooke & Wheatstone. This was a mechanical telegraph with several functions, including time and cipher transmission. Smith described Whishaw’s telegraph in 1851: “one of the uses of it being to regulate time between distant places to the hundreth part of a minute, by means of sounds transmitted by electrical agency. It also formed a telegraph, as there were four distinct alphabets and numerous signs and signals distinctly marked in red and black on the annular movable plate which surrounded the dial. There were four hands, which rotated together; one of these was distinguished from the others by being of a light colour, and was called the index hand, as by it the class of signals to be used was indicated. The other hands were used for pointing to the signals, which were thus more quickly given than if only one hand had been used. By two electrical bells, of dissimilar sound, the particular quarter of the dial on which the signals were to be read off was readily understood. Besides the telegraph dial and regulator, there was a second face with the ordinary hands, so that one side might be in the telegraph room of the railway station, while the other faced the booking office.” Two were made, one kept by Smith, the other by Whishaw. One can only imagine its appearance... John Smith & Sons survive today as Smiths Industries, manufacturers of instruments for the aerospace industry. Latterly Whishaw appears to have acted as agent or licensee for the electric index telegraph of his former colleague, W H Hatcher; for Richard Wrighton’s electric train signal; for Nathaniel Holmes’ electric whistle; for J O N Rutter’s fire and burglar alarm; as well as, and more importantly, for Siemens original galvanic index telegraph. The Siemens zeigertelegraph was patented in England in 1850, three years after its brevet in Berlin. It was very widely used in Prussia, Russia and the German States. Using galvanic batteries, it consisted of a twelve-inch diameter dial with thirty ivory keys about its circumference and a needle or index at its centre. Once the machine was put in circuit the needle was kept constantly rotating by the electric current, pressing one of the keys stopped the needle at the same point on both the sending and receiving instruments. The large brass case of the dial also possessed a bell alarm in its mechanism. It was contained in a substantial horizontal mahogany box, twenty-four inches by sixteen inches by nine inches, along with its own galvanometer and all the commutators necessary to manage its circuits. It was said to be the perfect galvanic dial telegraph in its ease of operation and integrity. This, the first Siemens instrument, was relatively complex and expensive in original cost and in working. It was to be replaced in manufacture by Siemens magneto-electric dial in 1859. It was anticipated in the late 1840s that there would be a market for index or dial telegraphs in those locations where the employment of a dedicated, specially-trained operator would not be economical. On European railways station-masters, porters and other staff worked these instruments which did not require knowledge of codes or cipher. As it turned out in Britain the reverse situation transpired; telegraph companies’ clerks assisted with railway duties. Whishaw also promoted Siemens chain-pipe, lengths of articulated cast-iron tube, 3 feet long and 1 to 2½ inches in diameter connected by ball-and-socket joints. This was used to protect submarine gutta percha insulated wires in Prussia from 1849 before armouring of cables with iron wire was perfected. The longest span of chain-pipe was 1,200 feet, crossing the Rhine river from the town of Cologne to Deutz. When Siemens opened their own office in London during 1850 Whishaw began exhibiting and marketing the electro-magnetic printing telegraph of 1848 devised by P A J Dujardin of Lille, France. This used a rotating magneto to generate a series of dots that were printed in ink in a spiral on a paper-covered drum. Although Francis Whishaw’s name was publicly attached to several of these devices; he widely advertised and organised public expositions of “Whishaw’s Telegraphic System” during 1849 and 1850 with an index apparatus and a peculiar gutta-percha insulated subterranean cable; his only patent protection was for multi-tubular stone-ware pipes to protect resin-covered wires and an electro-magnetic lock. The East India Company, which governed most of the sub-continent, invited him to submit proposals for a telegraph system for India and for undertaking its construction, in September 1849. It was received by their Board but not taken-up. The General Telegraph concern survived at least until 1851: its real contribution to telegraphy was in the employment of Nathaniel J Holmes as manager in 1849, after W H Hatcher, Whishaw and he were let go by the Electric company in March 1848. An associate of Wheatstone, Holmes became one of the principal electrical engineers in domestic and submarine telegraphy. Whishaw died in 1856 after a long illness. (Compiled from various sources)
Source : Ronell, Avital (1991). “The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech”, University of Nebraska Press.
Urls : http://whistlemuseum.com/2009/03/23/c1855-ivory-speaking-tube-whistle--2.aspx (last visited ) http://distantwriting.co.uk/noncompetitors.aspx (last visited )

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