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1879 __ Telephonoscope — Cartoon by George du Maurier
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
Comment : A cartoon by George du Maurier in Punch’s Almanac for 1879 captioned ‘Edison’s Telephonoscope (transmits light as well as sound) shows a wide-screen videophone conversion between London and Ceylon. George du Maurier's cartoon of 'an electric camera-obscura' is often used as an early prediction of television. It also anticipates the videophone, wide screen formats and flat screens. Legend of the picture : “(Every evening, before going to bed, Pater- and Materfamilias set up an electric camera-obscura over their bedroom mantel-piece, and gladden their eyes with the sight of their Children at the Antipodes, and converse gaily with them through the wire.) Paterfamilias (in Wilton Place). "Beatrice, come closer. I want to whisper." Beatrice (from Ceylon). "Yes, Papa dear." Paterfamilias. "Who is that charming young Lady playing on Charlie's side?" Beatrice. "She's just come over from England, Papa. I'll introduce you to her as soon as the Game's over !"."The telephonoscope was a device for receiving sound over great distance. Its basic design consisted of long paper funnels to the ends of which were connected flexible tubes for insertion into the listener's ears. When used with a speaking tube, the device reportedly enabled conversation to be "carried on through a distance of one and a half to two miles in an ordinary tone of voice. A low whisper, uttered without using the speaking trumpet, is distincyly audible at a distance of a thousand feet, and walking through grass and weeds may be heard at a much greater distance" (Prescott, 1879, 563). Edison made a preliminary note-book drawing of this device on 2 April and on 10 May made sketches for a draft caveat. The instrument susequently became known as the megaphone. ("Edison's Ear Telescope", New York Sun; "The Megaphone", New York Herald, both 8 June 1878, Cat. 1240, items 660-61, Batchelor TAEM, 92:227, "Edison's Megaphone", Sci. Am. 38 1878: 113-114)Edison explored ways of adapting the telephonoscope for use as a personal hearing aid, a device he termed the auriphone). He sketched ways in which the listening tubes could collapse telescopically to make them portable, and considered various shapes and arrangements of resonator tubes. (Doc. 1361; NS-78-002, Lab. TAEM 7:762; "Ears for the Deaf", New York Daily Graphic, 5 June 1878; "The megaphone", New York Herald, 8 June 1878, Cat. 1240, items 645, 661, Batchelor TAEM, 94:221, 227)
French comment : Edison est bien l'inventeur d'un téléphonoscope, qu'il présente à un de ses correspondants, Uriah Painter, dans une lettre (perdue) du 5 mai 1878, et que Painter propose immédiatement de faire breveter, dans une lettre du 13 mai 1878 ("Letter of Uriah Painter to Edison", Washington DC, 5-13-1878, in ISRAEL, P.B., NIER, K. and CARLAT, L. (ed.), The Papers of Thomas A. Edison, vol.IV, The Wizard of Menlo Park, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1009, pp.281-282). Mais il s'agit d'une sorte de double cornet accoustique, permettant de transmettre des conversations sur une distance de 1 à 2 miles. Edison avait fait un premier dessin sur un carnet de note le 2 avril 1878. Le 10 mai, il fit des schémas en vue d'une demande de brevet. L'instrument fut ensuite connu sous le nom de mégaphone. Edison étudiera par la suite les applications pour les mal-entendants sous le terme d'auriphone. Divers articles sont parus dans la presse américaine début juin 1878 sur le megaphone, aussi appelé Edison's Ear Telescope. (André Lange)
Source : Lange, André (1986), “Stratégies de la musique”, Pierre Mardaga, Bruxelles-Liège, 1986.
Urls : http://www.terramedia.co.uk/Chronomedia/years/Edison_Telephonoscope.htm (last visited ) http://histv2.free.fr/edison/edison.htm (last visited )

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