🎵 📮 Musical Telegraph¶
What Is An Electrical Telegraph?¶
An electrical telegraph was a point-to-point text messaging system, used from the 1840s until the mid 20th century when it was slowly replaced by other telecommunication systems.
One of the first synthesizers that used electricity to generate and transmit sounds. Invented by Elisha Gray in 1876. (And here we must digress. Elisha Gray also “invented” the telephone, in 1874, but arrived at the U.S. Patent Office a scant three hours after Alexander Graham Bell did, and thus lost out on the glory. After years of lawsuits, Gray’s company, Western Electric, became the sole-source manufacturer of telephones, while Bell’s company controlled the transmission lines.)
Elisha Gray would have been known to us as the inventor of the telephone if Alexander Graham Bell hadn’t got to the patent office one hour before him. Instead, he goes down in history as the accidental creator of one of the first electronic musical instruments. Gray was inspired to investigate electro-acoustic effects after witnessing his nephew playing with his uncle’s equipment. The child had connected one end of a battery to himself and the other to a bathtub; by rubbing his hand on the bathtub’s surface he created an audible humming tone proportional to the electric current.
Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self vibrating electromagnetic circuit and in doing so invented a basic single note oscillator. The original intention was to use this principle to develop an early version of multiplex telegraphic transmission; sending multiple telegraphic messages encoded as different pitches simultaneously over the same line which could be decoded at the receiving end. Using this principle he designed a musical instrument; The ‘Musical Telegraph’ or ‘Electro-Harmonic Telegraph’ initially to demonstrate and promote his ideas.
Elisha Gray’s Musical Telegraph keyboard transmitter.
“My invention primarily consists in a novel art of producing musical impressions or sounds by means of a series of properly-tuned vibrating reeds or bars thrown into action by means of a series of keys opening or closing electric circuits. It also consists in a novel art of transmitting tunes so produced through an electric circuit and reproducing them at the receiving end of the line.”
Elisha Gray; Patent notes No. 173,618, Feb. 15, 1876.
Next Topic: Telharmonium¶
Wikipedia / 120years.net / Sweetwater.com