The machine is just as much a creature of thought as the poem
May 17, 2017 10:03 PM   Subscribe

The Speaking Telegraph
The telephone was an accident. Whereas the telegraph networks of the 1840s emerged out of a century-long search for the means to communicate by electricity, men only stumbled over the telephone while searching for a better telegraph. For this reason, it is easier to pin down a plausible, though not incontrovertible, date for the invention of the telephone – the American centennial year of 1876. This is not to say that the centennial telephone was without precursors.

The first telephones were point-to-point devices, connecting a single pair of stations. As early as 1877, however, Alexander Graham Bell envisioned a grand, interconnected system. Bell wrote in a prospectus for potential inventors that, just as municipal gas and water systems connected homes and offices throughout major cities to central distribution centers,
…it is conceivable that cables of telephone wires could be laid underground, or suspended overhead, communicating by branch wires with private dwellings, country houses, shops, manufactories, etc., etc., uniting them through the main cable with a central office where the wires could be connected as desired, establishing direct communication between any two places in the city… Not only so, but I believe, in the future, wires will unite the head offices of the Telephone Company in different cities, and a man in one part of the country may communicate by word of mouth with another in a distant place.
"Our previous installment described the rise of automatic telephone switches, and of the complex relay circuits to control them. Now we shall see how scientists and engineers developed such relay circuits into the first, lost, generation of digital computers."

Konrad Zuse's Z3, the World's First Programmable Computer, Was Unveiled 75 Years Ago - Konrad Zuse faced a serious problem, while studying the construction of buildings and roads. This type of constructions require solving of huge systems of linear equations, which was very hard to be done by means of a logarithmic rule or even mechanical calculator of this time. - Die Z3 von Konrad Zuse im Deutschen Museum

Zuse Z3 and more historical computer simulations

How would a relay ocmputer even work?
posted by the man of twists and turns (5 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Hello Zusie!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:04 PM on May 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a book from the late 1800's showing a sort of telegraph driven photo transmitter. Seems like this sort of thing has been around for a long time.
posted by boilermonster at 11:31 PM on May 17, 2017

Among the important influences on [Bell's] thought was the phonautograph, a device that used a cadaver ear (really) to trace sound waves on smoked glass.

holy crap
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2017

So much gold in this post.
posted by Theta States at 11:58 AM on May 18, 2017

(Pssst, eponysterical Halloween Jack -- early experimental television used a human eyeball in the apparatus. In 1928. )
posted by clew at 5:36 PM on May 18, 2017

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