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Charles Bourseul ( 1829 - 1912 )  Category ( Inventors ) [suggest a correction]

The first inventor to suggest that sound could be transmitted electrically was a Frenchman, Charles Bourseul, who indicated that a diaphragm making and breaking contact with an electrode might be used for this purpose. He was at risk for being obscure, as several other inventors conceived the idea at the same time. However, Bourseul is the only one whose invention was successful in practice. His invention helped to pave the road to the invention of the telephone.

Born in Brussels on April 28, 1829, Charles Bourseul's family moved to France, as his father served in the French army as an officer. When Charles became old enough to hold a job, he went to a telegraph office as a civil engineer. In a position as a mechanic, he began to improve L.F. Breguet's and S.F.B. Morse's telegraphy system. The results encouraged him to experiement with electrical transmission of the human voice. His construction was similar to the future microphone, but the construction of a receiving part to convert the electrical current back into a human voice again failed. His experiments did not give him as much success as he hoped.

The fundamental idea of the electrical transmitting of sound was published by Charles Bourseul first in 1854 in the magazine "L'Illustration de Paris." Bourseul explained: "Suppose that a man speaks near a movable disc sufficiently flexible to lose none of the vibrations of the voice; that this disc alternately makes and breaks the currents from a battery: you may have at a distance another disc which will simultaneously execute the same vibrations.... It is certain that, in a more or less distant future, speech will be transmitted by electricity. I have made experiments in this direction; they are delicate and demand time and patience, but the approximations obtained promise a favourable result."

In 1878 after Philip Reis (German physicist and technical engineer, 1834 - 1874) and Alexander Graham Bell (American technical engineer, 1847 - 1922) had already published their telephone system Bourseul got an official acknowledgment for his "original idea". After a busy life spent improving the French telegraphy system he died in Saint-Cere / Lothringen on the November 23, 1912.

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Title :Adventures in CyberSound: Bourseul, Charles
Description : An on-line, academic work that will research the history of radio and the related media services of telegraphy, telephony, facsimile, television, photography and cinema. The project will also develop an on-line resource centre based on the above research. The project will subsequently develop the document A Future for Radio? and a prototype interactive on-line broadcast radio service, A Radio for the Future?
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