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British Industrial History

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David Edward Hughes

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1858. Printing telegraph.

David Edward Hughes (1831-1900).

A British-born US scientist and musician, co-inventor of the microphone and teleprinter, including the discoverer of the spark-gap radio and inventor of the crystal radio. He also invented a semiconductor rectifier diode, which he used to invent the crystal radio detector for the world's first radio transmitter and receiver. [1]

1831 May 16th. Born the son of a musically talented family hailing originally from Y Bala (the place of birth was either London or Corwen, Denbighshire) and emigrated to the United States at the age of seven.

He was an experimental physicist, mostly in the areas of electricity and signals.

1877 Invented a microphone

1878 Hughes was accused of copying the invention of the microphone, telephone and heat measure by Thomas Edison. Articles covering this appeared in The Engineer 1878/07/05, The Engineer 1878/07/12 and The Engineer 1878/07/26.

1900 January 22nd. Died aged 68.


1900 Obituary[2]

"...In 1855 Hughes invented and patented the first successful type-printing telegraph, so that the "tape" machine may be said to have originated with him.' After some difficulties and rebuffs tho system was universally adopted, and the inventor received many decorations and a good deal of money.

In the present day little is heard of the microphone, although its principle has been adopted in all successful telephone instruments, but in 1878, when Hughes first brought it to the notice of the scientific world, it attracted a great deal of attention.

He discovered many years ago the principle and mode of action of the "Coherer," on which the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy depends for its success. His researches in magnetism were important, and the results novel. He invented the induction balance; in fact, his work placed him in the front rank us an electrician.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1880. That body five years later awarded him a Royal gold medal, and in 1897 he received the Albert medal of the Society of Arts.

In 1886 he filled the chair as president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.


1900 Obituary [3]



1900 Obituary [4]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Edward_Hughes
  2. The Engineer 1900/01/26, p091.
  3. 1900 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries
  4. Engineering 1900 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index