In the earlier days, there was no telephone. Telegraphs were clicking information all around the world. The main problem was that a telegraph line was able to transmit one message at a time. Thus, the first interest of many telegraphists, like Elisha Gray, was to invent a new method to transmit multiple messages on a single line.
Elisha Gray worked on this topic when his nephew showed him a strange experiment. It consisted of an electric oscillator, a bathroom, and a hand. This experiment generated a sound: the electric oscillations were transformed into acoustic vibrations through the oscillation of the electrified hand! Thus, Elisha was his own amplifier.
Soon Elisha Gray improved his invention and replaced the bathroom with the body of a violin and a metal plate. He stated that the new "instrument" sounded in the range of the violin and the electric bathroom.
Since that time, Elisha Gray knew how to generate and transmit sounds with electricity. Thus he asked himself : "can I transmit chords, for example, many notes, or signals, on a single telegraph line..."
To demonstrate his ability to transmit chords, Elisha Gray built an 8 oscillator bank that can be controlled with a piano keyboard. Rapidly, the technical demonstrations attracted people interested in music. Thus, Gray developed a two octave version of the "harmonic telegraph" and toured the entire United States.
The success of sound generation and transmission changed Gray's interests: instead of developing multiplex techniques, he became interested in sound and especially voice.
Elisha Gray patented the telephone two hours after Alexander Graham Bell...
Elisha and his electric bathroom (1874)
Elisha Gray with his electric violin (1874)
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