NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1916 __ Tele-Music
Comment : In spite of the varied attempts to set up telephone-based news and entertainment services, none achieved long-term success in the United States. The major problem was weak signals, for until the mid-1910s there were only very limited means for quality amplification. In the May, 1916 The Electrical Experimenter, Hugo Gernsback's “What to Invent--Tele-music” predicted that "An 'industry' rivaling the moving picture business can be created when some genius perfects a means supplying telephone subscribers with all kinds of music". Actually, at the time this article appeared, most of the needed technical advances were already in place, for AT&T engineers, lead by Dr. Harold Arnold, had recently taken Lee De Forest's crude Audion amplifier and perfected it into a much more effective device, making possible more sensitive microphones, quality line amplification, and better loudspeakers, that finally made the establishment of home entertainment distributed by telephone-lines practical. In view of these advances, in the April, 1919 Electrical Experimenter Gernsback returned to the topic of entertainment by telephone distribution, predicting in Grand Opera in Your Home that individuals would now welcome "spending 50 cents or even a dollar for the privilege, and at that he would think he was getting it cheap because he, with his entire family, would hear the music in his own home without having to travel to and from the opera". But, ironically, the same vacuum-tube advances that made telephone-based services practical also doomed them, because an additional development, vacuum-tube radio transmitters, also made radio broadcasting practical, with the added benefit that programs could be more widely distributed at minimal cost. (Thomas H. White, “Articles and extracts about early radio and related technologies, concentrating on the United States in the period from 1897 to 1927”)
Original excerpt : « Tele-Music. An "industry" rivaling the moving picture business can be created when some genius perfects a means supplying telephone subscribers with all kinds of music from a brass band down to a violin concert. The requisites are that ten or 100,000 subscribers can listen in, all at the same time, without the sound weakening as more telephone lines are put in the circuit. The subscriber must be able to use his regulation instrument. No expensive attachments should be used; only, perhaps, let us say, a low priced horn, quickly attachable to the telephone receiver. The music should he heard loudly all over the room. No expensive nor complicated plant should be used at the point where the music originates. A two-wire line should connect the plant with "central.". » (H. Gernsback)
Source : Gernsback, Hugo. (1916). “What to Invent”. In The Electrical Experimenter, May 1916, (p. 3).
Urls : http://earlyradiohistory.us/sec003.htm (last visited ) http://earlyradiohistory.us/1916tele.htm (last visited )

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