THEME THURSDAY: TELEPHONE
(Faber's Euphonia 2)
(Alexander Graham Bell)
Telephone and Euphonia
We're all very familiar with Alexander Graham Bell and his contribution to developing a workable telephone, but how many of us have ever heard of Joseph Faber?
Faber, a German astronomer living in America, traveled across the Atlantic with P.T. Barnum to unveil his cutting-edge “Euphonia” at London’s Egyptian Hall in 1846. The astronomer had spent the previous 17 years perfecting this bizarre offering, and had even smashed and destroyed an earlier version of the machine after American audiences ignored his invention. The complex device was controlled by 17 levers, a bellows, and a telegraphic line. It was fashioned with the movable replica of a human face, which was able to faithfully replicate human speech. At the exhibition, Faber made his peculiar invention sing a haunting rendition of “God Save the Queen”.
In spite of the support and promotion by Barnum, Faber and his Euphonia became the subjects of ridicule. One of the Euphonia’s few devotees was a Scottish speech professor named Melville Bell. His son was none other than Alexander Graham Bell. The younger Bell made various attempts to reproduce speech, the most successful of which finally resulted in the workable telephone. Consequently, it was Faber's device that modern inventors credit with being a catalyst to Bell's prototypes. Unfortunately, Faber never realized how he was indirectly responsible for Bell's working device. Sadly, he destroyed his Euphonia and took his own life in the 1860s .
This is a description of the machine:
About this device:
" It is a speech synthesizer variously known as the Euphonia and the Amazing Talking Machine. By pumping air with the bellows ... and manipulating a series of plates, chambers, and other apparatus (including an artificial tongue ... ), the operator could make it speak any European language. A German immigrant named Joseph Faber spent seventeen years perfecting the Euphonia, only to find when he was finished that few people cared."