telautograph 1904

blog: Emerging technology at the 1904 Louisiana Exposition

World’s Fairs had such impact! Read about a demonstration of the telautograph and it’s wondrous instant messaging and a home telephone voice recorder from in the 1904 World’s Fair news section “Electricity up to 1904”. Below the except is a photo of an early solar collector dish, also displayed at the 1904 Louisiana Exposition. I came across this article when researching the relief models exhibited at the Fair for my book. (Photos from “The Romance of Modern Invention” by Archibald Williams.)

There was, up in a side gallery, a little machine called the telautograph. It was located in so obscure a position that no one saw it; yet it was one of the world’s great inventions. It was said that rival interests had secured its being so placed. Little progress has been made in its use because it was opposed by vested rights. It enables one to write a message [by hand], and a facsimile of the writing immediately appears at the end of the telautograph line. The first public use I ever saw of it was a few days ago in Philadelphia. Four instruments were placed in a newspaper window and used as bulletin-boards. As a subeditor, upon his machine in the rooms above, wrote out a bulletin, a facsimile bulletin immediately appeared upon each of the four machines.

There are a thousand ways in which this machine could be made useful under government ownership. Under private control of the public transmission of messages, the world has been robbed of this valuable invention. For instance, the ticker which gives the news laboriously to the offices in the great cities would disappear, and the same cost would furnish service which would practically cover all the news of the day written out in plain handwriting, or type for that matter, so that the subscriber might keep thoroughly posted.

And it seems not improbable that this is one of the forms that the newspaper of the future will take. In every house which can afford it there will be a telautograph upon which will be unrolled the news of the world as it transpires from hour to hour.

Another invention in this same direction was not exhibited, but is announced in the [World’s Fair] newspapers. It is a combination of telephone and phonograph [later known as a telephonograph]. If a way from the office, the owner adjusts a phonograph apparatus which records on its wax cylinder messages received during his absence-an improvement upon the ordinary office-boy.

Another invention mentioned in this news section was a “sun-motor” which appears to be an early solar collector dish used to power a water pump for a farm!

the sun-motor 1910 california