Johann Philip Reis


A Misunderstanding of Translation



Published Articles

A Comparison of Bell & Reis


Published Articles
  • "Electrical Review" pg.32 ¶ 1
  • From the " Electrical Review " (London),November 10,," REIS : ' PARENT ' OF THE TELEPHONE."
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Excerpts from "Electricity in Every-Day Life." By Edwin J. Houston. 1905.
    New York: P. F. Collier & Son. (Vol. 3 - pages 96- 97-and 104-105).
  • "DR. BELL’S ROOM" February 24, 1925 Mr. Grosvenor:
  • From: Die Fortschritte der Physik im Jahre 1863.Dargestellt von der physikalischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin.Berlin 1865, page 96
  • Lehrbuch der Technischen Physik. Hessler - Pisko. Wien 1866. Verlag Wilhelm Braumüller. page 648, 1st paragraph
  • Polytechniscches Journal. Herausgegeben von Dr. Emil Maximilian Dingler.
    Jahrgang 1863. Augsburg, page 399
  • Mr. Berliner's parable, "ELECTRICAL REVIEW" pg.38¶4

    From the "Electric Review" (London ).

    September 29, 1883.


    It will be recollected that during that during the trial, before Mr. Justice Fry, of the case of the United Telephone Company against Harrison Cox-Weather in May, 1882, the defendants offered in evidence a book entitled "Zeitchrifche Deutsch," containing a description and drawings of Reis' telephonic instruments. The publication of that book in the England was denied by the complainants; Dr. Muirhead was the only person who testified "that he had consulted the work, and although he could not read German, was enabled from the drawings to obtain much information from it." And Mr. Justice Fry in his judgement said: "upon the whole, though not without, the same doubt, I have come to the conclusion that there is evidence before me upon which I infer that the communication made in Legat must be considered to have been within the knowledge of persons skilled in these matters in this country."

    Your readers will, no doubt, be surprised to learn that a full description and drawings of Reis' telephone can be found at pages 257, 258,in a book entitled "Electricity," by R.M. Ferguson, published in London and Edinburgh in 1867, and in a second edition of 1882. This book was well known by scientific men, and is it not surpassing strange that this book was not produced at the trial?


    From the "Electrical Review" (London),

    October 20, 1883.


    For some time past a controversy has been kept up, not only in English, but also in foreign, scientific periodicals, with a view of satisfactorily solving the claims of the various persons to the invention of the telephone. Bell and Reis are two inventors who have been brought most prominently forward in connection with this matter, the latter, as all are readers are aware, having a warm and enthusiastic champion in the person of Prof. Silvanus Thompson. We do not wish to express an opinion either one way or the other at the moment, but we desire to draw attention to certain correspondence between Prof. Thompson and Mr. Berliner which has recently appeared in the columns of an American contemporary, the Electrical World. The latter gentleman asked the Professor to explain certain statements of

    Phillip Reis concerning the performance of his telephone, and it's defects when used in transmitting speech. To these queries Prof. Thompson replies with much the same arguments as he advances in his recently published book, which we have already reviewed at some length.

    Further he says:--

    "In regard to the second difficulty, that modern telephones for example, the bell-Blake combination- the vowels are transmitted better than the consonants and notably the 's' sound (which is quite true), I do not see any argument for doubting the correctness of Reis' statement, for the simple reason that if a Reis receiver (with a wire of steel or iron) be used, the consonantal sounds, and especially the 's' sound, come out remarkably crispy. Of coarse, such a receiver cannot be used on an induction circuit: it is not sensitive enough; and that fact, again, is in favor of the correctness of Reis' statement. For, as scientific fact, the action of the induction-coil, though it enables the electrician to work with lower battery power and thinner line-wires, is such as to alter all the undulations of the currents, retarding them and changing their phases and their forms, and affecting the irregular non-periodic consonantal undulations much more unfavorably than the more regular and periodic undulations of the vowel sounds. Now, Reis did not use an induction-coil. Discard it, and take any good transmitter- Berliner, Blake, Edison or Hunnings—and join it up in direct circuit with a battery and a Reis receiver: the transmission of consonantal sounds will, I warrant, be sharper than (though not so loud as) can be obtained by putting on an ordinary Bell receiver in place of the Reis. The modern difficulty with the consonants arises not from the transmitter, but from the induction-coil and from the magneto-receiver. The latter has so considerable a co efficient of self-induction in its coil (to put the matter scientifically) and magnet as a damp the finer and more sudden undulations of the current corresponding to the tending to 'greatly weaken the accuracy of Mr. Reis' statements,' I maintain it confirms their accuracy in a most emphatic manner."

    We agree entirely with the learned professor as the superiority of the articulation of Reis receiver over that of a Bell, although the sounds emitted are not so loud. We must, however , beg to take exception to his statement, that the former instrument cannot be used on an induction circuit. Our own experience with a "needle" receiver is quite the opposite of that stated by Prof. Thompson. We have experimented with very successful results in a direct circuit, but only on short lines. For long distances, we have, so far, found it necessary to use induction coils, and we have worked through a distance of 80 miles on an ordinary telegraph wire with surprisingly good effect. It appears probable, therefore, that had Reis used an induction coil with his platinum transmitter- the resistance of which could not vary to such a degree as those made of carbon he might have been more successful than he appears to have been in his efforts to transmit articulate sounds, or speech.

    It is possible, however, that we may have we may have misunderstood Prof. Thompson's true meaning.

    From the "Electrical Review " (London),

    November 3, 1883.


    The weight to be given to the criticisms of a reviewer of a work treating of scientific facts and opinions derives importance either from the acknowledge scientific attainments of the reviewer, or from his array of well-established facts to support his opinions. In the "review", published originally in a periodical entitled Science , both those essentials are wanting to entitle it to any importance whatever.

    In the first place that review does not bear the signature of the writer. For the importance of the opinions expressed in this publication we must fall back upon those responsible for its, publication.

    Their names are displayed on the cover of the work and are as follows:------

    *The Science Company. Directors : D. C. Gilman, of Baltimore,

    President; A. Graham Bell, of' Washington, Vice-President;

    G. G. Hubbard, of Washington; O. C. Marsh, of New Haven;

    S.H. Scudder, of Cambridge, Editor. Moses King, of Cambridge,


    Now, as the " review" is a defense of Bell's claim to be the inventor of the telephone as against the claim advanced by Professor Thompson that Reis is the inventor, it is evident that, the reviewer is writing in his own interest and certainly his, opinions are not to be accepted unless sustained by proofs, and the only pretension they can possess to be entitled to an weight must be depend upon the facts cited in support of his opinion.

    I forbear to comment upon the many erroneous statements made by the reviewer because of well legal axiom---"falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus"---- and further because of his gross ignorance of facts long since well established.

    The reviewer writes: "To say, as Prof. Thompson repeatedly

    does, that Reis employed his mechanism with the express intention

    of 'producing a variable current by the change of contact-resistance

    and that he consciously and purposely utilized this principle--at that time hardly recognized any where, and of which 'the practical application was not discovered till several years later'--is a gross misrepresentation, and an utter perversion of the facts. Reis did not know, and could not know, that strength of a current could be controlled by the varying pressure of the conducting -surfaces between which it passes."

    The scientific acquirements of the reviewer can be estimated by reference to the 2nd edition of' Count du Moncel's "Expose des applications de 'Electricite," page 246, published in 1856, as follows:-----

    "A curious fact, and one which seems at first to be contradictory to the theory which to the theory, which has been formed electricity is, that the pressure, more or less which is imparted between the contacts of the interrupters has considerable influence on the intensity of the currents which pass through them . This is owing to the fact that the metals are not always in perfect state of cleanliness at the point of contact, but, perhaps, also to a physical cause not as yet well understood."

    The reason the reviewer gives that "Reis did not know, and could not know, that the strength of a current could be controlled by varying of pressure of the conduct

    Could not know, that the strength of a current could be controlled by varying the pressure of the conducting surfaces through which it passes," can only be that he himself was ignorant of that principle, which was published , in 1856, in a book of world-wide fame and circulation.

    To him I think I can apply with justice the following words, applied by I think I can applied by him to Professor Thompson's by Dr. William F. Channing, an eminent scientist, to whom Mr. Bell, in his paper read before the Society of Telegraph Engineers, Oct. 31, 1877, expressed his indebtedness for his cooperation and assistance.

    [In compliance with Mr.Barney's request, we below the extracts to which he refers, and in the regard to the review in Science, we presume it was written editorially, there being no name attached thereto.—EDS.ELEC.REV.]

    Prof. Thompson's, book which treats exhaustively the early history of the telephone, is therefore, not only of scientific but of social interest and importance. It establishes beyond honest doubt or question, by historical evidence, by the reproduction of original documents and illustrations, and by the pubic records of scientific bodies, that Philipp Reis discovered the electric transmission of speech in 1860-61; that he elaborately described and exhibited his described and exhibited his telephone in 1861; that he invented transmitting and receiving instruments, which not only talked than and talk now, but which include the essential principles of transmitters and receivers now in use; and that he manufactured, placed on the market, and sold his instruments in 1863, for the purpose of illustrating the electric transmission of speech and song. That invention so important, made in the heart of Germany, should not have been so instantly perfected and utilized would surprise us in this country, if history did not abundantly teach that favorable season and soil re found for their commercial adoption and development.

    In an appendix, which is not really separable from nor less important than the rest of the work, Prof. Thompson discusses Reis's development and use of the variable or "undulatory" sound-pressure, which he graphically represents, and to which he often refers.

    Disregarding induction-coils and other accessories, the fundamental principle of these later instruments is the combination of a tympanum with a current-regulator, identical with the combination used by Reis. Too loud shouting in either the Reis or Blake transmitters spoils the articulation by breaking the circuit.

    Reis's transmitters have been called make or break circuit instruments. If so, the Berliner and Blake transmitters, operating on the same principle, are also make or break circuit instruments. If, on the other hand, the Berliner and Blake electric currents, in correspondence with the sound, waves, the Reis transmitters, by the same mechanism, necessarily do the same.

    A section of the appendix is devoted to the "undulatory" current in Reis's telephone. We have already seen that the function of the Reis transmitter was to vary the strength of the electric current, and not to break it. . Reis was accustomed to speak of opening and closing the circuit in describing these instruments, not in the technical sense of modern telegraphy, nor with the idea of sending intermittent signals, but in the sense of increasing or diminishing the current, without going so far as to absolutely break it. This is abundantly proved by the context in his descriptions, and by the operation of his instruments. He states, in his first memoir, that to produce any sound or combination of sounds, in the transmitter. And he represents graphically the undulatory curves of consonant and vowel sounds by way of illustration. Between the transmitter and receivier, on whose necessary identity of vibration he constantly insists, he employs an electric current as the intermediate, to take on, in it's wave-motions or polarisations, all the possible variations of the sound-waves sticking on the transmitter, and to give them up again later to the receiver. Reis, without talking about "undulatory" currents, makes them the staple of his telephone.

    Prof. Thompson, without the least imputation of plagiarism shows, in the parallel columns, the identity of the essential principles of the telephone. The impression of the identity of Reis's and Bell's discovery grows, page by page, during the perusal of this book.

    The conclusion reached by Prof. Thompson, from the survey of the whole field- a conclusion which seems to be fully borne out by the facts adduced—is the following: "There is not in the telephone exchanges of England today any single telephone to be found in which the fundamental principles of Reis's telephone are not the essential and indispensable features."

    "Electrical Review" pg.32 ¶ 1

    Reis said he looked forward to the time when "mechanical science " should perfect the imperfections of his apparatus. The fact that I, amongst others, have, while studying these splendid but neglected researches, found certain means of applying mechanical science to correct some of those acknowledged imperfections and have taken steps to secure my right to use the improvements I have made, does not, in the smallest degree affect the facts about Reis or what he attempted. I have nothing, I repeat, to gain by making Reis's invention appear better or worse than it was. On the contrary, I am the more anxious that it should be widely known both how good and how bad it was; how perfect in its inception; how avowedly imperfect in its performance. I did not dare to expect that my endeavor to spread the facts about Reis's invention would escape the tongue of calumny. I did not expect to find anonymous abuse reprinted unrebucked where I have found it.Silvanus P. Thompson.University College, Bristol,Oct. 27th, 1883.

    Dr. Robert P. Multhauf, Director
    Museum of History & Technology
    Smithsonian Institution
    Washington,D.C. 20560

    Dear Dr. Multhauf,

    Herewith is the report of the committee appointed to investigate the telephone exhibit at the Museum of History & Technology of the Smithsonian Institution. This committee was appointed by Dr. Elmer Belt, president of the Society for the History and Technology. It has deliberated long and carefully, and some of it's members traveled to Washington in order to view the exhibit in question. Although the committee did not meet together as a committee, it conducted extensive correspondence on this matter. The committee arrived at this report in accordance with the procedure out lined in my letter of August 14, 1967.

    The committee has examined carefully the photographs of the exhibit, the text of the materials included in the exhibit, and the various items of correspodence of Mr.and Mrs. Joseph Marion Jones and Dr. Benard S, Finn. In addition, each committee has conducted his own research into the problems raised by the exhibit and by Mr. and Mrs. Jones' objections.

    The report consists of three parts: (1) a commendation of the Museum of History & Technology for certain aspects of its of the telephone story; (2) a discussion of the issues raised in regard to the exhibit and of possible errors of omission and comission within the exhibit, which might be taken into consideration by the staff of the Museum.

    Part I

    The committee believes that the Museum of History & Technology is to be commended for the following reasons:

    The exhibit as it stands now is historically factual and technically accurate. It contains no inaccurate information, and it focuses on the major satisfactory to either the Smithsonian staff nor to Mr. Jones. I doubt very much, however, if the Smithsonian people will object to any of our comments and recommendations, even though these are somewhat critical of the present for letter-writing and sensing his strong feelings on this subject, I have a hunch that we will be hearing from him. While our report vindicates his original position to some extent, we did not provide him with the unconditional surrender that he perhaps desired. If our communications from either party in this dispute, I shall, of course, forward copies of these communications to you.

    But I do hope that our work is done now and that we will not be forced into a position of having to defend further our conclusions. I want to thank all of you for the care and trouble which you have taken in this matter. Although it took us somewhat longer than we had originally anticapated—and much more work than I had originally thought to devote to this problem—I think that the results have been worth it. For myself, I have learned much more about the telephone and the process of invention, and I am certain that all of us profited our investigations. Perhaps we have also taught something to our colleagues at the Smithsonian and to Mr. Jones I want to thank you again for your cooperation in this matter --- and, barring that this ad hoc committee has performed its work and can now go out of existence. Again, my thanks.

    Sincerely yours,

    Melvin Kranzberg

    Part 2 pg.3 ¶2

    The committee felt that despite the good will, the scholarly accuracy, and the careful attention to selective details, the exhibit in question is not entirely adequate. The exhibit does not indicate clearly enough that there is disagreement among well-qualified authorities regarding the ability of Reis's instrument to transmit speech. While there is apparent agreement that the Reis instrument could transmit sounds of the human voice (and the exhibit makes note of this fact), there is seriuos doubt that in the form originally constructed it actually did transmit intelligible messages. The statement in the exhibit that the "quality of reproduction was too poor for commercial development is not quite the same as a statement that authorities differ on the ability of the Reis telephone to transmit a message by speech.

    Incidentally, the difficulties at arriving at a conculsion on this point were shown by the fact that the members of the committee could not agree on the degree of credence to be given to the testimony used as evidence by Sylvanus Thompson, a distinguished scientist who wrote a biography of Reis. Furthermore, the excellent experiments being conducted by Dr. Bernard S. Finn, of the Smithsonian staff, have thus far proved conclusively on the question of the capabilities of the Reis instrument to transmit a message which would be intelligible to the human ear. When we see that present-day scholars cannot agree on the credibility of the testimony of contemporaneous witnesses, and that even the devices when used experimentally today cannot provide a conclusive answer, it would appear that the present exhibit, by failing specifically to note the disagreement among authorities then and today, is misleading.


    Slight changes in the exhibit would give the exhibit a somewhat fuller picture of the nature of the invention, development, and innovation process. A statement might be added regarding the voice sounds which were transmitted by Reis's instrument, to the effect that authorities differ over the ability of the Reis device to transmit intelligible messages.

    Excerpts from "Electricity in Every-Day Life." By Edwin J. Houston. 1905.
    New York: P. F. Collier & Son. (Vol. 3 - pages 96- 97-and 104-105).



    "Although the United States Court, after a most prolonged litigation, awarded the priority of the invention of the speaking telephone to Alexander Graham Bell, of the United States, yet a careful study of the facts would undoubtedly appear to award the credit for this invention to a German, Johann Philipp Reis, who produced an instrument called by him the Telephone, as early as 1860. Although it has been denied by some experts that the Reis apparatus is capable of transmitting clear articulate speech, yet equally able experts have sworn to the fact that not only would apparatus built in strict accordance with the Reis apparatus transmit articulate speech, but that models of such apparatus that were in existence long before Bell claimed to have invented the telephone, will still transmit speech. It will suffice, in this connection, to quote the following opinion of Prof. Sylvanus P. Thompson, from his interesting book, entitled 'Philipp Reis, the Inventor of the Telephone.' The Professor is referring to the statement, so frequently made, that the Reis telephone will only transmit musical notes. He remarks that, for such assertions, 'the one reply is silence, and a mute appeal to the original writings of Reis and his contemporaries, and to the tangible witness of inexorable scientific facts. All the most important of these will be found in their appropriate place. They amply establish the following points:

    "'(1). Reis's telephone was expressly intended to transmit speech.

    "'(2). Reis's telephone, in the hands of Reis and his contemporaries, did transmit speech.

    "'(3). Reis's telephone will transmit speech.'

    "In the specification of Bell's first patent, the following statement is made:

    "'Electrical undulations, induced by the vibration of a body capable of inductive action, can be represented graphically, without error, by the same sinusoidal curve which expresses the vibration of the inducing body itself, and the effect of its vibration upon the air; for, as above stated, the rate of oscillation in the electrical current corresponds to the rate of vibration of the inducing body; that is, to the pitch of the sound produced. The intensity of the current varies with the amplitude of the vibration; that is with the loudness of the sound; and the polarity of the current corresponds to the direction of the vibrating body; that is, to the condensations and rarefactions of air produced by the vibration.'

    "This explanation is practically the same as that given by Reis in 1860. Moreover, the curves employed by Bell to illustrate these principles are almost identical with those employed at an earlier date by Reis, for a similar purpose.

    "It is an interesting fact that, on the 14th of February , 1876, exactly the same day on which Bell filed his application, Elisha Gray, of Chicago, filed a caveat in the United States Patent Office, for 'A new Art of transmitting vocal sounds telegraphically.' Like Bell, Gray modified his form of apparatus, and greatly improved it for the transmission of speech…"


    February 24, 1925
    Mr. Grosvenor:

    Referring to your note of February 19, transmitting an excerpt from The Evening Star, of February 15, telling of the monument erected to the memory of Charles Bourseul, and bearing the inscription: "In honor of the father and Inventor of the Telephone." That excerpt contains so many misstatements that it seems a pity that some arrangement could not be made with editors by which any items of the same character would be referred to you for comment, before publication, with the further understanding that if the item was published without modification, the comment would also be published.

    As you knew, last year a monument was erected to the memory of Charles Bourseul, in the village of Saint Cere, France, by friends and local enthusiasts. My understanding is, that in no sense was it a national or scientific affair, and, as far as I have been able to discover, no scientist or governmental official of eminence participated in the unveiling.

    Bourseul died in 1912, and, except among intimate friends, his death appears to have attracted slight attention. The French illustrated periodical L’Illustration (Paris) for October 18, 1924, contains a picture of the monument, a brief reference to the unveiling, which occurred on a Sunday, and an abstract of the remarks of the two orators. Among the reported statements are three that are not in accordance with the facts, as widely known. The orator stated that Bourseul "discovered the principle of telephone." Bourseul did nothing of the kind; he merely expressed a belief that some day speech would be transmitted electrically, and suggested the use of an intermittent current for accomplishing the result.(See L’Illustration (Paris) for August 26, 1854).

    Mr. Grosvenor –- Feb. 24, 1925 –-2

    Earlier in 1854, an American, in Keene, N. H., named Farrar, came far nearer the truth than Bourseul. But Farrar did not know how to do what he realized must be done to successfully transmit and reproduce speech. He believed that "if the current power could be varied by some slight variation of a vibrator to be affected by the atmosphere as the tympanum of the ear is, the supposition is that the sounds of the voice might be reproduced." (See Scientific American for 1879).

    The second erroneous statement ascribed to the orator is: "He (Bourseul) wrote the first chapter in the history of the telephone." Bourseul did nothing of the kind. His erroneous suggestion about the use of an intermittent current, is believed to have misled the German Reis, and the Italian Meucci, both of whom tried to make electric-speaking telephones, but failing in that respect, did make telephones. Reis made excellent musical telephones, and Meucci evidently made good mechanical telephones, substituting a wire for the string used in the "lover’s telephone." I know of no record showing that Bourseul ever made a telephone, or ever made any experiments after his communication of August, 1854. Though both Reis and Meucci are dead, enthusiasts still harp on their respective countrymen having invented the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell is dead; a dead lion can do no harm. But the Oriental proverb is nearer the truth: "Only a fool arouses a sleeping lion or its offspring."

    As translated from L’Illustration the third of the orator’s erroneous statements reads: "Bourseul was, indeed, the first to conceive a technical progress whose applications, developments and perfections were the endowment of a worldly elite." So far as the record shows, Bourseul never contributed one useful idea to promote progress in the art of telephony. The periodicals of his day contain references to the contributions of others to improving the art of telephony; but I have not found his name. Years ago Bourseul was a telegrapher during the day, and an embryo scientist in the evening. According to the writer in The Evening Star he later became a professor of physics in a small university and, evidently, for his services as a telegrapher for the government, received a pension.

    As you know, M. Du Moncel was an eminent scientist and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. In the second volume of his Epose des Applications de l’Electricite, published in Paris, in 1854, he reproduced Bourseul’s communication of 1854 to L’Illustration. Years later, in 1877, when scientists in every country were discussing the achievement of Alexander Graham Bell, it is probable that Du Moncel would have been very glad to have been able to show that one of his countrymen had anticipated Bell. But evidently he could find no proof of the slightest value, for in an address to the members of the French Academy, Du Moncel said:

    "However this may be, the fact cannot be concealed that it is Mr. Bell who is the inventor of the telephone, for there is a whole world between a first idea and its definitive realization." (See Comptes Rendus, November 20, 1877.

    It must also be remembered that it was this same French Academy that recommended to the President of the Republic of France, in 1880, that the famous Volta Prize be presented to Alexander Graham Bell for his invention of the electric-speaking telephone. It was only the second award of the prize since Volta’s day. Is it at all likely that so high an honor would have been conferred upon a foreigner, had the French Academy believed that a Frenchmen had contributed, prior to 1876, anything of the value to the art of telephony? For it was the highest possible honor that the Republic could confer upon an inventor, and an honor rarely conferred.


    Die Fortschritte der Physik im Jahre 1863.
    Dargestellt von der physikalischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin.
    Berlin 1865, page 96

    Ph. REIS. Ueber das verbesserte Telephon. DNGLER J. CLXIX. 378-378.

    Mr. Reis is said to have considerably improved his telephone. With the earlier instrument only the inventor himself was able to experiment. Now the instrument - which can be ordered through ALBERT in Frankfurt/Main - has a pleasant design and can be handled by anyone with ease. Sung melodies are reproduced in a distance of 300 feet much more clearly than they were before. The scale reproduces particularly clearly.

    Even words could be transmitted to the experimenting person, but only those which they have already heard many times.

    Polytechniscches Journal. Herausgegeben von Dr. Emil Maximilian Dingler.
    Jahrgang 1863. Augsburg, page 399


    On the improved telephone.

    In the meeting held on the 4th of July of the 'physical society' in Frankfurt/Main" Mr. Ph. Reis from Friedrichsdorf near Homburg von der Höhe, member of this society, demonstrated several of his improved telephones (instruments for reproduction of sounds in any distance through galvanic current). It is now 2 years, since Mr. Reis has first presented his apparati to the public. Although the performance of these apparatuses was astonishing back then in its simple and plain form they were lacking insofar as experimenting with them was only possible with the inventor himself. The instruments shown in the meeting mentioned above showed little resemblance with the earlier ones. Mr. Reis payed attention to giving them a pleasant design, so that now they will occupy their place in every physical cabinet with dignity. These new apparatuses can now be handeld by everyone with ease, and run with great certainty. Melodies sung with a rather low voice in a distance of 300 feet are now reproduced with the installed instrument much more distinctly than before. The scale reproduced particularly clearly. Even words could be transmitted by the experimenters, however only those who had been heard by them before often. In order for others, less experienced people, to be able to understand each other through the apparatus the inventor has applied a small device on the side of the apparatus, which according to him is perfectly sufficient, however the speed of the transmission of which is not as fast as that of the newer telegraphs, but which is working reliably and does not require any special skills of the person experimenting with it. We want to get the attention of the physicists to the fact that the inventor of those interesting apparatuses has them being made under his supervision (the important parts are being made by himself) and that those can be ordered from him directly or through the mechanic Wilh. Albert in Frankfurt / Main in two designs, only differing in the finish for the price of 14 and 21 fl. (Böttger's Polytechnisches Notizblatt, 1863, Nr. 15.)


    Note from the translator: fl stands for "Florin", the French gold gulden, a precursor of the Euro.

    Lehrbuch der Technischen Physik. Hessler - Pisko. Wien 1866. Verlag Wilhelm Braumüller. page 648, 1st paragraph

    The telegraphing of sound will finally be the end of this chapter on telegraphie. It is based on the phenomenon, first observed by Page and later confirmed by Marian and researched more distinctly by Wertheim that iron with alternating magnetisation and demagnetisation can through a galvanic spiral be set in longitudinal oscillations and does sound and the possibility of telegraphing sounds was put beyond all doubts by Reuss in Friedrichsdorf (bei Homburg) by means of an apparatus, called by himself Telephon, which consists of two parts, the actual telephone I and the apparatus for reproduction II mounted in a distance on the second station.

    From the " Electrical Review " (London),
    November 10,

    To the Editor of the Electrical World.

    " Sir,--Mr. Berliner has given me, in your issue of October 6,which has just reached me, a very neat, rejoinder, containing a number of interesting points. To ask space to reply to all of them in your columns would be to ask too extensive a favor at the hands of even the most gracious of editors. Therefore, lest I occupy too large a space in your columns I purpose to leave some of the less important of the issues to answer themselves, and will address myself to I the main points now in debate."Mr. Berliner promises to 'lay bare Reis's methods' (methods -observe--not method) of transmitting undulations by the telephone; but on examining the results emanating from his weapon -shall I call it tomahawk? -by which the process of I laying bare' is accomplished, I cannot find that he has done very much more than dig up a rather obscure passage about--no not about a transmitter at all--about one of the receivers invented by Reis: the 'knitting-needle.' He comes to the conclusion, by looking at this passage in the description of a receiver that the transmitter was not intended to transmit all that such a receiver could receive; but that it was only intended to transmit 'one-half' of the undulations. Well, though the argument is rather mixed in its logical sequences I am thankful even for the admitted 'one-half', and I congratulate Mr. Berliner on the fifty percent, of undulations which be credits to this particular instrument, of Reis. I willreturn to the remaining 'half' presently .

    " Meantime, I would ask Mr. Berliner why, in his process of 'laying bare' Reis's methods he confined his attention to one form only of the receivers of Reis. It so happens that Reis invented another form of receiver, most minutely described by Inspector Von Legat in his report on Reis's instruments. Why is the action of this receiver not to be considered equally important ? In this other instrument there was an electro-magnet and opposite its poles an armature, elastically mounted, and attached to a sounding board. The action of the apparatus was thus announced :--

    "'The electro--magnet will be demagnetized and magnetized correspondingly with the condensations and rarefactions of the mass of air contained in the tube (of the transmitter), and the armature belonging to the magnet will be set into vibrations similar to those of the membrane in the transmitting apparatus.'"

    "Do these words not 'lay bare' something quite different from Mr. Berliner's suggestion that Reis intended to let the transmitter 'do' one-half of the undulations, and the receiver the other half? Mr. Berliner says : " In the modern system the transmitter does the whole, and the receiver merely follows faithfully;" but , surely, following faithfully call only mean that the armature of the receiver is set into vibrations similar to those of the tympanum in the transmitter, and that, is precisely how Reis described the action of his receiver as just quoted. It is perfectly clear that, in this form Of instrument, at, any rate, the receiver was to receive the whole of the vibrations-not 'one half'-and therefore it follows that the transmitter was to transmit the whole of them.

    "But I come back to the other half' which Mr. Beliner hesitated to credit to Reis when he used the 'knitting-needle' receiver. Mr. Berliner bases his view upon a passage which he cites from Reis himself. I will quote the same identical passage, word for word, in order that I may explain the points he has missed. Reis in this passage is endeavoring to explain how the varying interruptions Of' the current can make such a needle vibrate; and he takes a simple case in illustration -"'But at every closing of the circuit the atoms of the, iron needle, lying in tile distant spiral, are pushed asunder from one another. At the interruption of the current the atoms attempt to regain their position of equilibrium. . . . . But, if these actions follow one another more rapidly than the oscillations of the iron core, then the atoms cannot travel their entire paths, the paths traveled over become shorter and shorter the more rapidly the interruptions occur, and in proportion to their frequency.'"

    "Those are the words Mr. Berliner quotes. Let its see what there is in them. Firstly , Reis recognized that, the iron or steel of the needle was made up of atoms all and that since the material possessed elasticity its atoms could be made to oscillate backward and forward. He also recognized that the iron needle had a tone of its own, in emitting which the oscillating atoms would have to oscillate with a certain frequency of motion ; but that it was also possible for them to oscillate in longer or shorter paths, and in paths (of longer or shorter duration, provided certain actions which were brought to hear upon them occurred more or less frequently than their own natural frequency of oscillation. He further remarks that, if these impressed actions occur more rapidly or frequently, the atoms will not swing over such long distances; they will execute short quick vibrations instead of long slow ones, in which case, they will not travel their 'entire paths.' I cannot find in the passage from Reis one single word about 'back-stokes the molecules , which Mr. Berliner seems to have found in this passage of memoir. It distresses me to say that I can't find anything of the sort even hinted at. I don't find any molecules, which striking, either against themselves or anything else; much less that they have 'back' strokes. They swing through longer and shorter paths, and swing quicker or slower, according to circumstances.

    "I will ask Mr. Berliner kindly to allow me one moment's grace to 'lay bare' the action in a Bell receiver, of the common kind. The vibrating or undulating current comes along the line transmitter into the 'distant spiral ' coiled upon the polepiece of the receiver ; that pole-piece in consequence acts with corresponding fluctuations in its attraction, upon the atoms of the iron tympanum. That tympanum has, like all tympanums (and like the iron needle too), a natural note of' its own-a booming note, if the tympanum be thin in proportion to its diameter. The iron is elastic; its atoms can oscillate and van travel along paths of their own. But if the fluctuations of the current impress upon those atoms magnetic impulses with a different frequency, If the fluctuations of the current come more rapidly one after the other than the natural swing of' the iron atoms then those atoms composing the iron disk oscillate with it corresponding frequency of note, and travel in paths of longer or shorter duration. If these fluctuations in the transmitted current I follow one another than the oscillations due to the elasticity of' the iron of the diaphragm that is to say if the transmitted sound is one of shorter pitch than the natural owe of fit (elastic iron tympanum 'then the atoms can not. travel (heir entire paths;' the paths traveled over become shorter and shorter to lie more rapidly the fluctuations occur, and in proportion to their frequency. "Why! when we I lay hare' the action oil the iron atoms Of the diaphragm of the Bell receiver, it turns out that, so far as any question of oscillation of atoms is concerned the effect Of frequency in fit(- fluctuations of the current is- absolutely . identical with the effect, of frequency in the fluctuations of the current in . The case of the iron atoms of the Reis needle Given a fluctuating current, it will produce a corresponding fluctuating magnetic attraction on a neighboring atom of iron, no matter whether that atom of iron be part of all elastic iron needle or part of an elastic iron disc. Both can vibrate, both will vibrate ; and tile duration of the oscillations will be shorter in proportion to the frequency.

    " I say, then, most emphatically, that Reis, in describing the action of the (- current on tile oscillations of the atoms of iron, had penetrated to the very heart of the matter: and the passage quoted by Mr. Berliner is the most convincing proof of it. I assure Mr. r. Berliner that he need not any longer hesitate to credit Reis with the 'other half' of the undulations. He has admitted that Reis intended to transmit fifty per cent. of tile vibrations by it undulatory current. If Reis invented an instrument to work by undulatory currents for fifty percent of' the vibrations Air. Berliner admits--then, I think, he must, be regarded as the inventor of undulatory-current-transmission even if the other fifty per percent be otherwise transmitted. " Having disposed of this point, I turn to another. Mr. Berliner quotes from Reis's prospectus-a document which specially gives instruction how to indicate to the person at tile transmitting end when he, is to ' speak'--the following scrap:-"The circuit will be once opened, and again be closed, for each full vibration." "And upon the strength of this ' decisive language' he seems to think it proved that I am wrong in maintaining that Reis meant his interruptor to work by varying contact. According to Mr. Berliner, Reis did not intend his interruptor to interrupt the current in proportion to the vibrations; but to act in a manner that did not correspond to the vibrations at all. According to Mr. Berliner, a gradual vibration was not to interrupt the current gradually; a partial vibration was not to interrupt the current partially. And this is the sentence he quotes is a proof of his view.Well, what does the sentence say? "It does not refer to the complicated vibrations of speech, to the regular undulations of the vowels, or to the abrupt, agitation's of the consonants. It, does not even refer to the transmission of gentle musical chords. It is a much simpler case-the simplest conceivable. Reis, wishing to bring the very simplest case to the conception of an incredulous folk who would not believe that even a simple musical sound could be electrically transmitted, takes them to the instance or a single to-and-fro' oscillation. He tells them what will happen in the case of a full vibration. That is all. He says the circuit will be once opened and again closed for every full vibration. He had previously said--or had got Inspector Von Legat to say it for him--that the contact piece of the transmitter must 'follow' the movements of tile tympanum ' tympanum of the transmitter with the greatest precision or else tile sound would be blurred in its transmission. And he knew, and gave diagrams to show that he knew, how complex were the vibrations of various sounds which his transmitter was to transmit. He drew diagrams of undulatory curves not, consisting of 'full' vibration but of vibrations of other kinds,-gentle gradations of pressure being indicated by gentle slopes in the curves. All these his contacts were to 'follow' precisely in perfect correspondence. He told the world what was to happen at each ' full' vibration :he did not add in any explicit manner what was to happen at any half-vibration or partial vibration. He left it up to the common sense of mankind to see that if a 'full' vibration opened and closed the circuit, a half-vibration must half-open and half-close the circuit. It is absolutely certain that, in the lever-form of Instruments he meant the amount of opening and closing-the degree of interruption-to be proportional to the motion of the tympanum of his transmitter, for if it were not proportional, the result would have violated the principle he so emphatically laid down that, the Electro-magnet of his receiver was to be magnetized and demagnetized in proportion ion to the degree of condensation or rarefaction of the air in the transmitter. I cannot conceive any person of ordinary understanding reading the statement of this fundamental principle, and not seeing that this could not possibly be so unless the opening and closing of the circuit bythe interrputor of the transmitter were an opening and closing strictly proportional in degree to the vibrations impressed by the speaker's voice. He intended his circuit to be closed fit proportion to the air-pressure. "The failure of Reis to obtain all the complete results he hoped for - and he was one of those single-hearted men who honestly avow the imperfections of their own work-was not due, as Mr. Berliner thinks, to the falsity of his system. Berliner says it was 'solely' due to the falsity of his system No. He failed to obtain results as reliable as he desired, because his instruments had mechanical imperfections which prevented them from coming up to their performance to the perfect correspondence' in action which Reis's theory laid down."Did Reis lay down that theory of correspondence as a fundamental principle, or did he not ? Any one who has read Reis's papers knows.


    Mr. Berliner's parable


    " 'A child born in the wilderness losses his parents when he is not capable yet of uttering what he wants…. When quite grown, and in his wild condition, he is picked up by a person of intelligence, who succeeds in teaching him how to talk and to learn, and he subsequently becomes a highly useful citizen of the State. To whom the State is most indebted?'

    "Let me bare 'lay bare' this little parable. The child born in the wilderness had no natural impediment. He was not physically incapacitated from speaking; he inherited the organs of' speech form his parents; but they were dead. He had a tongue made right and lips and lungs. His organs of speech were so constructed that when rightly operated they could produce those undulatory motions of the air which we call speech he had even learned to mutter a few familiar words in his youth before his parents died, and when he sang songs the words were recognizable, said those who heard him. But after his parents' death he spoke to nobody, simply because nobody spoke to him. His failure speak was not due to any imperfection hi his own design or structure, or to any falsity in the system on which he was constructed. His lips were not so made that they must always be either wide open or tight shut. They could be half open, or a quarter open; they could open in tiny proportionate degree corresponding to the amount of muscular effort applied to open or close them. His ears, though clumsy, were perfect. The elasticity of the membranes or drumsticks was such that the atoms could execute to and fro, and could travel on longer or shorter according to the forces acting on them. In short, his- imperfections were solely due to disuse. People did not know or had forgotten his existence. Now comes the , 'person of intelligence.' I would have preferred to say a man of insight and genius. He teaches the creature to talk and to learn. It is deeply touching. That man has deserved well of his country. He is a public benefactor. The parable is perfect."Only one detail remains. Mr. Berliner asks :-To whom is State most indebted-- THE dead parents, or the man of insight? Pardon me that is not the question. The question is: Who was the parent? Yes! The parable is perfect.

    "Silvanus P. Thompson.


    "Oct. 26th, 1883."