Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 092

"Phonomime, Autophone, and Kosmophone," New York Times, June 11, 1878, p. 5.

To the Editor of the New-York Times:

Your amusing but profoundly philosophical article in yesterday's TIMES on the "Phones of the Future" contains more than one suggestion as to the possibilities of polyphonic invention, which will, according to the present appearances, be speedily realized.  There can be no doubt that the several instruments with which the marvelous genius of Thomas A. Edison has enriched the sciences of acoustics, phonetics, megaphony, microphony, telephony, and autophony, together with the numerous others with which his fertile brain is teeming, point to the establishment on a firm experimental basis of a new science of kosmical proportions, and which may well receive the name of Kosmophonics.  For the perfected instrument which shall graphically represent the voices both of the infinitely great and the infinitely little you have proposed the name of the symphone, observing that "it has yet to be invented."  It is true that no instrument has yet been perfected which will give these results, but the principle is fully discovered, and its realization is only a matter of time.  Indeed, with his imperfect instruments, Mr. Edison has already (with his assistant, Mr. Bachelor.) listened to the sounds of molecular vibrations, and is thus the first mortal who has removed the veil of Isis from one of the innermost shrines of nature's temple.  For this instrument of magnificent promise I propose the name of kosmophone.

The new science of kosmophonics will have several subdivisions of striking originality and interest.  For the graphical registry and subsequent study of the voices of the animate creation we shall have the zoophone and its corresponding study of zoophonics.  For the registry of the sounds of the "vegetable kingdom" we shall have the phytophone, for the sounds of inorganic nature the physiophone.  All these names which now appear in print for the first time will doubtless be as familiar to the rising generation as telegraph and photograph are to our contemporaries.

I do not know whether it has ever been pointed out that the phonograph, though it sprang at once fully armed from the inventor's brain, is really a double instrument, and that each of its two constituent parts would be enough to immortalize an ordinary scientist.  There is the voice-recorder or phonograph proper, which consists in the well-known mechanism by which the vibrations of sound are graphically recorded upon the tin-foil.  The wonderful fact that a second revolution of the cylinder will give back these sounds is really another and much more important feature of the invention, for which the name of phonomime or sound imitator would be sufficiently descriptive.  The combined phonograph and phonomime might appropriately be known for scientific purposes as the autophone.  Within a very few months our youths and maidens will be as eager for contributions to their autophonic albums as they now are to enrich their poetic and photographic albums.  Very truly yours,

P. C. B.
MENLO PARK, New-Jersey, Monday, June 10, 1878.