JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
\And yes, there it is, a one-liner, like everything else, in an 1876 volume of Scientific American:
Besides it being the Centennial year, 1876 saw a number of major games in the history of human thinking. Sometimes the announcements or earliest public appearances of these breakthroughs didn't get all that much attention. As one of the major means of transferring technical and applied science info to the general public, it is interesting to see how Scientific American reacted to such innovations. For the thick, heavy volume for 1876, amid patent announcements and articles on telegraphic fire alarms, electro-harmonic multiplex telegraphs, recording telegraphs, electro-magnetic telegraph railroad car signals, signal box telegraphs, underground telegraphs, telegraph keys and armature, acoustic telegraphs and the l;ike (though there weren't that many reported, not really, just on the order of dozens), we find one of the most important of them all, patent # 174,465, by Alexander Graham Bell, appearing 8 April 1876. It would be a rude resumption of being here in the future of this event to call the coverage short-sighted
In an earlier article in the 4 March 1876 issue of SA, there appeared "The Invention of the Telephone", by P.H. Vander Weyde, in which there is yet any mention of Mr. Bell. There is an illustration of one of his precursors in the field, the Reuss telephone, with ample description. (This was actually Philipp Reiss, and his telephone really wouldn't work to transmit the human voice, though did so work for music to some degree.) Bell's patent would be at the Patent Office in March, and would appear as a one-line notice (among a hundred others), the patent stating it was "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically ... by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound". (The first image above is a detail; the second image a longer version, which is really only less than half of what the real-life version looks like in the tall listing.)
Weeks later, Elisha Gray's (on 13 May) telegraphic telephone patent (175071) appears in the Scientific American, and later, on 9 September, on page 163, there is the article "The Human Voice Transmitted by Telegraph", on the successful transmission by Graham Bell.
Admittedly there were a number of developments in the production of the speaking telephone at this time, though in general there seems to have been no great attention paid them in the pages of the Scientific American than pipe cutting machine improvements or improved gravel separators. Obviously the great impact of the invention was yet to be appreciated, even in any sort of fictional way.
- (Bell, Alexander G.) The Scientific American, 1876. We offer the entire volume, sumptuously illustrated with all manner of technical objects, in two parts (bound in one volume), 414+414pp each. Very fresh copy, bound in black l;ibrary cloth. Very good copy. $950 email@example.com