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1877 __ « Phonography »
Jno Cammack (?-?)
French comment : La démonstration du téléphone de Bell et du phonographe d'Edison enflammèrent les imaginations, comme en témoigne cet article curieux de Jno Cammack. Jno Cammack était un "inventeur" britannique visiblement déçu de voir son génie ignoré. Dans cet article du 14 décembre 1877, paru dans le magazine britannique English Mechanic, ayant appris la mise au point du téléphone par Edison, il se déclare surpris de voir combien ses idées se rapprochaient de celle du "Sorcier de Menlo Park". La semaine suivante, dans le même magazine, il se déclare outragé que le téléphone de Graham Bell s'inspire d'un téléphone que avait lui-même dessiné dès 1860 ! Plus que ces revendications, qui nous paraissent aujourd'hui un peu dérisoires, on retiendra le dernier paragraphe de s lettre à English Mechanic. Cammack y imagine que l'un ou l'autre des grands professeurs Thomson, Marey, Tynsdall devraient mettre au point un instrument permettant de reproduire les caractères écrits, mais aussi tout type de mouvement, à n'importe quelle distance - y compris par delà l'Atlantique - ainsi que transmettre la lumière à distance. Cammack ne minimise pas les difficultés de ces projets, mais il ne doute pas que ce sera un jour un fait accompli (en français dans le texte). Ce que propose Cammack n'est pas vraiment un appareil, ni même une hypothèse, mais c'est bien la formulation de l'ambition scientifique que d'autres vont bientôt explorer. (André Lange)
Original excerpt : « Phonography.Observing in your No. 662 the article on "Edison's Phonograph", I was somewhat surprised to find how closely my own ideas had been running in the same direction. For the purpose of systematically analysing human speech, with a view of reproducing it by mechanical means, I had already devised a plan of using at the end of a short tube or parabolic cup a diaphragm of skin or india-rubber, the vibrations of which would be transmitted and augmented by means of a spring-loaded lever to a style recording its motions upon the blackened surface of paper or thin metal sheet surrounding a light drum or cylinder revolving, at a quick, uniform, and known speed. The recording could also be accomplished by electro-chemical means as in Bain's telegraph. By calling out all the elementary phonetic sounds of the language to be analysed it would be possible to determine from the varying curves thus registered the essential characteristics of each sound, and from these a set of corresponding types in hard metal could be made, which could then be set up as in ordinary print for any lecture or speech when desired. On account of the permanent character of the type the original sounds could be reproduced, and even considerably augmented so as to be heard by a large audience or at a great distance. Suitable expression might be given as desired by separate lines of type modifying the amplitude of the vibrations for loudness or softness of the voice, and regulating speed of apparatus for rate of utterance. It will be easily understood that the instrument for reproducing the sound, or phasemeter as it might be called, would be merely a modification of the original phonograph acting in a reverse manner. For music a set of type could be made for the scale of each instrument, and by a combination of such it would be possible to reproduce the effects of a complete orchestra, either for parlour use or public demonstration. I am in no position at present to carry out any experiments, but in the hands of Mr. Edison, as an extension of his own idea, we might expect something definite and valuable. Amongst the wonders yet to be accomplished, and which are, in my opinion, within the scope of such powerful minds as those of Professors Thomson, Marcy, Tyndall, etc., are the reproduction of written characters, and, indeed, of any possible motion, at any distance.say, across the Atlantic, and of light at a distance. The latter, no doubt, presents a fearful list of difficulties to be overcome, but after the discovery of the radiometer and telephony, it would seem to be possible. The former I have often thought feasible, and I have no doubt will soon be a 'fait accompli'. Jno Cammack. »
Source : Cammack, Jno (1877), "Phonography", In English Mechanic, 14 December 1877.
Source : Lange, André (1986), “Stratégies de la musique”, Pierre Mardaga, Bruxelles-Liège, 1986.
Urls : http://histv2.free.fr/19/cammack.htm (last visited )

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