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1921 __ Inventions and the description of the first broadcast concert by H. Grindell Matthews
Harry Grindell Matthews (1880-1941)
Comment : File of notes on Grindell Matthews, including manuscript of The first broadcast concert, about the use of wireless to broadcast voice and music, The secret life of John Logie Baird, and a chapter from the book Spycatcher. n.d. (Catalogue of archives held at the West Glamorgan Archive Service in the Civic Centre, Swansea)West Glamorgan Archive Service (Gwasanaeth Archifau, Gorllewin Morgannwg)).In 1911 Matthews said he had invented an Aerophone device, a radiotelephone, and transmitted messages between a ground station and an aeroplane from a distance of two miles. His experiments attracted government attention and in July 4, 1912 he visited Buckingham Palace. However, when the British Admiralty requested a demonstration of the Aerophone, Matthews demanded that no experts be present at the scene. When four of the observers dismantled part of the apparatus before the demonstration began and took notes, Matthews canceled the demonstration and drove observers away. Newspapers rushed to Matthews's defense. The War Office denied any tampering and claimed that the demonstration was a failure. Matthews backpedalled and stated that the affair was just a misunderstanding. In 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, the British government announced an award of £25,000 to anyone who could create a weapon against zeppelins or remotely control unmanned vehicles. Matthews claimed that he had created a remote control system that used selenium cells. He successfully demonstrated it with a remotely controlled boat to representatives of the Admiralty at Richmond Park's Penn Pond. He received his £25,000 but the admiralty never used the invention. Next, Matthews appeared in public in 1921 and claimed to have invented the world's first talking picture, an interview of Ernest Shackleton. It was not commercially successful. (Other talking-picture processes had been developed before that of Matthews, notably one by William K.L. Dickson: these also were not successful, but they are thoroughly documented. Even if Matthews's process actually worked, it was certainly not the "first".) In 1923 Matthews claimed that he had invented an electric ray that would put magnetos out of action. In a demonstration to some select journalist he stopped a motorcycle engine from a distance. He also claimed that with enough power he could shoot down aeroplanes, explode gunpowder, stop ships and incapacitate infantry from the distance of four miles. Newspapers obliged by publishing sensational accounts of his invention. The War Office contacted Matthews in February 1924 to request a demonstration of his ray. Matthews did not answer to them but spoke to journalists and demonstrated the ray to a Star reporter by igniting gunpowder from a distance. He still refused to say how the ray actually worked, just insisted that it did. When the British government still refused to rush to buy his ideas, he announced that he had an offer from France. The Air Ministry was wary, partially because of previous bad experiences with would-be inventors. Matthews was invited back to London to demonstrate his ray on April 26 to the armed forces. In Matthews's laboratory they saw how his ray switched on a light bulb and cut off a motor. He failed to convince the officials, who also suspected trickery or a confidence game. When the admiralty requested further demonstration, Matthews refused to give it. In 1925 he invented what he called the "luminaphone". ""Last week Harry Grindell-Matthews, British inventor of the "death-ray" demonstrated certain devices with which he had turned theoretical flippancies of the dilettanti into mechanical realism. It is of course an impossibility to rearrange the human nervous system so that one kind of sense impression is substituted for another, but it is quite within the scope of science to turn light into music, sound into color. His instrument, called the "luminaphone," releases light from a series of searchlights to strike through a pattern of holes on revolving disks. Each hole is the equivalent of a note of music. The light, interrupted so as to form the pattern of a tune, passes through the holes to strike selenium plates, setting up vibrations which are "amplified" as on a radio. When Inventor Grindell-Matthews placed his hand over one of the lights, a note was deadened; when all the lights were covered, all sounds ceased. The instrument has a tone like that of a little pipe-organ." (Time (magazine). November 23, 1925). On December 24, 1930 Matthews was back in England with his new creation - a Sky Projector that projected pictures onto clouds. He demonstrated it in Hampstead by projecting an angel, the message 'Happy Christmas' and a reportedly 'accurate' clock face. He demonstrated it again in New York. This invention was not successful either, and by 1931 he faced bankruptcy. He had used most of his investors' money for living in expensive hotels. (Compiled from various sources)
Urls : http://abertawe.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=32650 (last visited ) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,928756,00.html (last visited ) http://www.frenchaymuseumarchives.co.uk/Archives/PagesBiogy/Matthews_HG.htm (last visited )

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