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What Do You Know About The Telescribe?

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It is #FlashbackFriday. Therefore, it is a good day to take a trip down memory lane. The Telescribe is an invention no one is talking about today. However, it was a huge deal at some point.


Thomas Edison created the Telescribe 104 years ago today, on 24th May 2019. He designed the machine to record telephone conversations. It was an innovative form of technology that made the telephone more useful.


Edison said of the Telescribe, “It makes the telephone more useful, the phonograph more valuable and both more necessary.” He made the machine to record telephone conversations.


However, Edison believed that the machine could only reach its full potential by pairing with another invention of his: the phonograph.


Thomas Edison Phonograph
Thomas Edison with the Phonograph


He believed that the fact that we could not record conversations restricted to the telephone made it pointless to use it to conduct business.


Edison decided to then invent the machine. He created the prototype in 1878, which he called the “carbon telephone.” 37 years later in 1915, Edison announced his latest invention, The Telescribe.


This created an era of the paranoia of recorded phone conversations.


A Danish inventor, Valdemar Poulsen, in 1900, came up with another machine that recorded calls on massive spools of thin copper wire. Unfortunately, his invention never worked.


This caused the business involved with selling Poulsen’s machine in American to go bankrupt. Edison announced his Telescribe around this same time.


Thomas Edison Telescribe


The Telescribe had two telephone receivers. One was plugged into the phonograph when a call came in. The other smaller one is the one that was spoken through.


Edison anticipated that after the call, the wax cylinders will replay the call and the word will be transcribed by a stenographer. Both parties involved will then receive paper copies of the conversation for confirmation.


The innovator had confidence that this device will be a major hit in the market. Unfortunately, only a few of it was produced before it was quietly taken off the market.

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