powdered graphite microphone, 1878-1890

Made:
1878-1890 in England
maker:
David Edward Hughes

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Microphone consisting of small tube filled with (apparently) powdered graphite, probably made by David Edward Hughes, England, 1878-1890.

The development of the microphone owes much to David Edward Hughes (1831-1901). Building on the work of Willoughby Smith and Sir William Thomson, Hughes attempted to detect changes in the resistance of wire with sound. He discovered that these changes occurred only when his stretched test wire broke and when he touched the ends together. He found that light but constant pressure was the only essential and in some experiments tried powdered carbon. Hughes did not patent his discoveries, meaning that subsequent inventors were able to make use of them without giving Hughes the credit.

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Science Museum: Information Age Gallery: Exchange

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Related people

Details

Category:
Telecommunications
Object Number:
1922-146
Materials:
carbon, copper (alloy), plastic (unidentified), wax
type:
microphone
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • audio equipment
credit:
Executors of the late Anna C. Hughes
status:
Permanent collection

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