Telegraphy and the Phonogram




“No application of electricity has contributed more towards advancing the conventions and comfort of man than the invention of the Electric Telegraph. The telephone enables us to converse by word of mouth with persons within circumscribed distances; the electric signal calls the engines to subdue the flames that threaten our homes; but the telegraph alone has the power to convey our thoughts with immeasurable rapidity over land and under sea, enabling us to communicate with friends and places in distant lands. The merchant sitting at his desk, quotes to his customer the price of the hour in cities thousands of miles away; the statesman pondering over some knotty question of political economy, turns for reference and assistance to speeches and opinions delivered perhaps but a few hours previous by diplomats in another part of the globe. To circumscribe the power of electricity and the value of the telegraph were to attempt the impossible; it vanquishes thought in speed, annihilates distances, and almost out speeds time itself. Millions of dollars are invested in lines of telegraph, and thousands of persons are employed in their construction and operation. Lawyer and client, doctor and patient, manufacturer and merchant consult together, and the businessmen of the world effect transactions for millions each day.”

-From Kelly’s Universal Self-Instructor and Manual of General Reference, 1891




The Phonogram
“In my article ten years ago, I enumerated among the uses to which the phonograph would be applied: 1. Letter writing and all kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer 2. Phonographic books which would speak to blind people without effort on their part. 3. The teaching of elocution. 4. Reproductions of music 5. The “Family Record” – a registry of sayings, reminiscences, etc. by members of the family in their own voices, and of the last words of dying persons. 6. Music boxes and toys 7. Clocks that should announce in articulate speech the time for going home, going to meals, etc. 8. The preservation of languages, by exact reproduction of the manner of pronouncing 9. Educational purposes-such as preserving explanations made by a teacher, so that the pupil can refer to them at any moment, and spelling and other lessons placed upon the phonograph for convenience in committing to memory. 10. In connection with the telephone, so as to make that invention an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being the recipient of momentary and fleeting communications.”
– By Thomas A. Edison from the Phonogram


One thought on “Telegraphy and the Phonogram

  1. If you haven’t read The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage about the impact of the telegraph on the world, try to find a copy. I think you’d find it interesting reading.


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