NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1876 __ Telephone concert - Telephone demos with orchestras and musical instruments
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Thomas A. Watson (1854-1934)
Comment : Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1847. His grandfather was a teacher of elocution and his father had continued in this business, developing a form of visible speech. Bell and his brothers were trained in this visible speech and gave demonstrations in which their father would write a sound made by a member of the audience, and the Bell brothers would enter the room and reproduce it. Bell's father also encouraged the brothers to build a model of the human vocal chords. From his family, Bell acquired expertise in speech and audition. In 1866, he became interested in Helmholtz's apparatus for reproducing vowel sounds electromechanically, a creative error that spurred him to think about using tuning forks to send multiple, distinct tones over the same wire, creating a harmonic multiple telegraph. [...] In 1875, Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders provided funding for an assitant, Tom Watson. On June 2, 1875, while Bell and Watson were trying to transmit multiple distinct tones over a single wire, one of the steel reeds got stuck and when Watson plucked it to free it, Bell heard clearly in the other room a composite tone. This act of serendipity was made possible by Bell's unique background and experience; he alone saw the potential in what for most inventors would have been an annoying error. Bell had Watson construct the first telephone that night. Unfortunately, it did not work very well, but Bell was convinced he had the principle on which speech and telegraphix transmission would be based, and he began to write a patent. The application was filed by Gardiner Hubbard on February 14, 1876. On the same day, a few hours later, Elisha Gray showed up at the patent office with a caveat for a speaking telegraph. (An inventor could file a caveat to signal his intention to complete an invention and file a formal patent at a future day). Bell's patent focused on the form of current one would have to use to transmit speech; Gray' caveat focused on a transmitter that used liquid as a medium of variable resistance. Bell's mental model for his device was the human ear; Gray's was a string telephone. The patent and the caveat were thrown into interference, but based on the fact that his patent came in earlier, Bell was awarded a patent on March 7th, 1876. (Thomas H. White, “Articles and extracts about early radio and related technologies, concentrating on the United States in the period from 1897 to 1927”)On the 2nd of July, 1876, Bell writes Hubbard about an experiment he is making preparating to the transmission of sounds between Boston and Philadelphia. Electro magnets of high resistance had been constructed for the purpose, and he mentions having discovered that the apparatus could be worked with one cell of battery, and says he is sure that by substituting a "permanent magnet" for the pole of the electro magnet, he could work it "without a battery at all". This was in accordance with his orginal ideas of 1874, which embraced, as applied to the transmission of speech, the membrane diaphragm, hinged armature and electro magnet.According to legend, in 1876 the first sounds transmitted down a wire were Alexander Graham Bell saying "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you." - 1st of March. On June 25th, Bell exhibited his telephone apparatus at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, was in attendance and, according to a Portuguese translation exclaimed, "My God! It talks!" upon seeing its demonstration.Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Bell worked on his famous invention at his family's home here at 94 Tutela Heights Rd, and he made the world’s first long-distance phone call from this location on August 10, 1876. There were actually three successful tests; from the Homestead to the general store in Mount Pleasant just south of Brantford, from Brantford to the Bell Homestead, and from a shop in the village of Paris to the Homestead. Alexander Graham Bell made history on March 10, 1876, when he placed the world’s first telephone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. The idea of broadcasting music is as old as telephony itself.On 22 March 1876, just 12 days after Alexander Graham Bell's momentous "Watson, come here, I want you" ushered in the telephone era, The New York Times was predicting a wired future where multichannel entertainment was a household utility like gas and water. "By means of this remarkable instrument, a man can have the Italian opera, the Federal Congress, and his favorite preacher laid on in his own house," the paper proclaimed. "Fifty eminent preachers, of different denomination, can be kept constantly on draught." Within a year, pianist Frederick Boscovitz had phoned his rendition of Yankee Doodle from Philadelphia to a rapt audience in Washington DC, and telephone enthusiasts elsewhere quickly followed suit. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : “Un des moyens utilisés jusque là pour illustrer et faire comprendre le fonctionnement et les possibilités techniques du téléphone avait été (ces dernières étant certainement plus démonstratives que le simple son de la voix humaine énonçant une phrase banale) l'audition d'œuvres musicales et l'exécution de quelques pièces sur un violon ou un piano. C'est ce que font, dès 1876/1877, Bell et Watson.”. (Patrice Carré)«En 1876, année du Centenaire, l'empereur du Brésil, Dom Pedro, visitant l'Exposition de Philadelphie, arriva en se promenant jusqu'au stand du jeune Alexander Bell ; il prit l'instrument en forme de cône qui était exposé là, et lorsqu'il le placa contre son oreille, Bell se mit à parler dans le transmetteur. « Mon Dieu, mais ça parle ! » s'écria Sa Majesté ; et, dès ce moment, le téléphone devint le clou de l'exposition.» Tel est le compte rendu de la première démonstration du téléphone présenté par Samuel E. Morison et Henry S. Commager dans l'un des manuels d'histoire des Etats-Unis les plus usités et les plus respectés : "The Growth of the American Republic". Bien que le lieu, l'époque et les protagonistes mentionnés dans ce passage correspondent à la réalité, l'histoire racontée là n'est jamais arrivée. Le téléphone de Bell, exposé seulement pendant quelques jours, ne devint jamais le «clou de l'exposition». (David A. Hounshell, "Elisha Gray et le téléphone - à propos de l'inconvénient d'être un expert")
Original excerpt 1 : « May 12, 1876.Dear Papa & Mama, There is nothing like putting a bold front after all. I feel myself borne up by a rising tide. The meeting at the Academy was a grand success. I had a telegraph wire from my rooms in Beacon Street to the Athenaemic building, and my telephonic organ was placed in my green reception room under the care of Willie Hubbard. When the proper time came I rose to adress the dignified assembly of grey heads before me and telegraphed to Willie Hubbard for some music. While I was speaking out burst the notes of the "Old Hundred" from an instrument upon the table to the delight of all. When I spoke of the simultaneous transmission of musical notes I sent a telegraphic signal to Willie and in response came some dich chords.and then an air with its proper accompaniment. Everything was most successful, and when I sat down I was somewhat surprised to be greeted by a hearty round of applause.which, I am informed is such an unusual thing at the Academy ... Your affectionate son, A. Graham Bell. »
Original excerpt 2 : « Prof. Reuss, a distinguished German performer on telegraphic instruments, has recently made an invention which cannot fail to prove of great interest to musicians, and, indeed, to the general public. The telephone--for that is the name of the new instrument--is intended to convey sounds from one place to another over the ordinary telegraph-wires, and it can be used to transmit either the uproar of a Wagnerian orchestra or the gentle cooing of a female lecturer. In appearance, the telephone somewhat resembles a Morse instrument; but in addition to the usual quantity of magnets and polished brass, it is provided with an ear-trumpet and a curious collection of miscellaneous machinery of small size, but of presumably enormous horse-power. When Mme. TITIENS is singing, or Mr. THOMAS' orchestra is playing, or a champion orator is apostrophizing the American eagle, a telephone, placed in the building where such sounds are in process of production, will convey them over the telegraph-wires to the remotest corners of the earth. By means of this remarkable instrument, a man can have the Italian opera, the Federal Congress, and his favorite preacher laid on his own house. Before many years we shall probably read in the advertisements of house agents descriptions of houses to let in which hot and cold water and Baptist preachers are laid on in every room; of others fitted throughout with gas and congressional orators; and still others in which the front parlor is telephonically connected with the Academy of Music, and the back parlor contains a series of instruments by means of which fifty eminent preachers, of different denominations, can be kept constantly on draught. The universal use of the telephone will, of course, be viewed with disapprobation by the sound-producing part of the community, just as the introduction of labor-saving machines was met by the hostility of the laboring classes. No man who can sit in his own study with his telephone by his side, and thus listen to the performance of an opera at the Academy, will care to go to Fourteenth street and to spend the evening in a hot anti crowded building. In like manner, many persons will prefer to hear lectures and sermons in the comfort and privacy of their own rooms, rather than to go to the church or the lecture-room. The rural visitor who spends a Sunday in town, and reads a printed notice in the office of his hotel to the effect that "TALMAGE'S sermons, drawn from the wood, can be had at 11 o'clock in the telephonic room," will, of course, give up his original intention of risking a journey to Brooklyn, and will listen to the trembling telephone as its sympathetic brass vibrates to the tones of the resonant Brooklyn orator. Thus the telephone, by bringing music and ministers into every home, will empty the concert-halls and the churches, and the time may come when a future Von Büllow playing a solitary piano in his private room, and a future Talmage preaching in his private gymnasium, may be heard in every well-furnished house on the American continent. It is an unpleasant task to point out a possibly sinister purpose on the part of an inventor of conceded genius and ostensibly benevolent intentions. Nevertheless, a patriotic regard for the success of our approaching Centennial celebration renders it necessary to warn the managers of the Philadelphia Exhibition that the telephone may really be a device of the enemies of the Republic. WAGNER is to write an overture for the exhibition, and it is assumed that thousands of people will go to Philadelphia to hear it. Somebody is to make an oration, and somebody else is to deliver a poem after the roar of the overture has died away, and it is believed, that there are persons who wish to listen to both. Moreover, the Declaration of Independence is to be read in connection with the opening of the Exhibition, and those who have never seen a copy of that document will, of course, be anxious to hear it read. But what if Prof. REUSS, with deliberate malice, and at the instigation of the European despots, should distribute telephones to all the cities of America, and thus enable their citizens to listen to overture, oration, poem, and Declaration, without the trouble and expense of going to Philadelphia? What possible success would in such case attend an exhibition to which nobody but Philadelphians with free passes would come? There is so far nothing to indicate that this is Prof. REUSS' dark design, but as all foreign despots, from the Queen, in the Tower of London, to the Prince of Monaco, in the backroom of his gambling palace, are notoriously and constantly tearing their hair as they hear of BELKNAP and PENDLETON, and note the progress and prosperity of our nation, it is not impossible that they have the infamous scheme of attacking the Centennial Celebration with telephones. However, there is one comfort. If the Wagner overture is written in the author's characteristic style, no telephone made of weaker materials than sixteen-inch steel plates can successfully report it. With the first grand crash of WAGNER'S brass and bass-drums every telephone will fly into pieces and an awful silence will settle over the land, except within a distance of say fifty miles from the center of musical disturbance. » (“The Telephone”, New York Times, March 22, 1876, page 8)
Source : Carré, Patrice (2002), “Le téléphone, entre public et privé, ou la mise en scène d’une technique ...”, In Alliage n°50/51, “Le Spectacle de la Technique”, Paris, Éditions du Seuil.
Source : Collins, Paul (2008), “ Theatrophone – the 19th-century iPod”, In New Scientist, Magazine issue 2638, 12 January 2008.
Source : Prescott, George Bartlett (1972), "Bell's electric speaking telephone: its invention, construction, application, modification, and history", Ayer Publishing, p. 432.
Source : Gorman, Michael E. (1999), "Alexander Graham Bell", In "Encyclopedia of Creativity" by Mark A. Runco and Steven R. Pritzker, Academic Press, Vol. 2, pp. 185-186.
Source : Bell, Alexander Graham (1908), "The Bell Telephone : The deposition of Alexander Graham Bell, in the suit brought by the United States to annul the Bell patents", printed by the American Bell Telephone Company, 1908, p. 106.
Source : Evanson, A. Edward (2000), "The telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876 - the Elisha Gray-Alexander Bell controversy and its many players", MacFarland, pp. 101-102.
Urls : http://www.tribunes.com/tribune/alliage/50-51/Carre.htm (last visited ) http://css.psu.edu/news/nlfa98/slice.html (last visited ) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726382.000-theatrophone--the-19thcentury-ipod.html (last visited ) http://earlyradiohistory.us/1876reis.htm (last visited ) http://documents.irevues.inist.fr/bitstream/handle/2042/30882/C%26T_1983_10_61.pdf?sequence=1 (last visited )

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