Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 085

"A Shouting Phonograph," Literary Digest 21:7 (No. 539), Aug. 18, 1900, p. 194.

A COMBINATION of megaphone and phonograph that is called in some of the papers a "howling terror" has been invented by Horace L. Short, of Brighton, England. The following description is from The London Mail:

"A phonograph that shouts so loudly that every word can be heard at a distance of ten miles has been tested at Brighton.

"You can whisper a sentence into the machine's small funnel-shaped mouthpiece and it will repeat it in tones that are more deafening than the shrieks of a liner's steam siren. Yet every word is perfectly articulated, and a shorthand writer ten miles away can take down the message as easily as if you were dictating to him in a small room.

"In appearance, it [the machine] is merely an ordinary phonograph, with a large trumpet measuring 4 feet in length. Inside this trumpet there is a small and delicate piece of mechanism that looks something like a whistle. This is the tongue of the machine.

"Instead of the 'records' being taken on wax in the usual manner, a sapphire needle is made to cut the dots representing the sound vibrations on a silver cylinder, and when the needle travels over the metal a second time, the vibrations cause the whistle to produce a series of air-waves, and the machine thus becomes a talking siren which transforms the human voice into a deafening roar.

"The experiments were made near the Devil's Dyke, Brighton, where the inventor has his workshops. The instrument was placed on the roof of the laboratory, and was made to repeat a number of sentences. At a distance of ten miles the sounds were plainly heard by a large number of people, every word being perfectly distinct, and at a second trial with a favorable wind it was found that an unknown message could be taken down in shorthand at a distance of twelve miles. Over the water the sounds will carry still farther, and under favorable circumstances they might easily be heard by persons on a vessel fifteen miles out at sea. Placed on a lighthouse or lightship the phonograph would give a verbal warning that would be infinitely more effective than the fog-horns and detonators at present in use.

"The possibilities of the machine are practically endless. It will render loud selections in the open air that can be listened to by thousands of people, or it will shout news messages that could be heard high above the roar of the traffic and the thousand noises of a big city."