Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

More than 30,000 photos of scientists and their work

Photophone H1

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Photophone H1

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Jeff Hecht
Credit line: 
Bell Laboratories / Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. / Collins Radio Company, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Hecht Collection

Two drawings indicating the apparatus used in the photophone. Two vertical photos depict how speech travels. One is a man sitting in a chair blowing into an object so the sound goes to the other end of the table. The other depicts two men; one with ear phones and the other speaking into a big round object. Alexander Graham Bell's photophone modulated reflected sunlight with sound vibrations, then detected the sound by using the light to illuminate a piece of selenium. It carried voices without wires, but not very far.

Photo date: 
circa December 1880