|David Edward Hughes|
David Edward Hughes
|Born||16 May 1831
|Died||22 January 1900
David Edward Hughes (16 May 1831 – 22 January 1900) was coinventor of the microphone, an accomplished Welsh musician and a professor of music, as well as chair of natural philosophy at a seminary for women in Bardstown, Kentucky.
Hughes was born to Welsh parents in London in 1831 and emigrated to the United States as a young man. He was an experimental physicist, mostly in the areas of electricity and signals. He also invented an improved microphone, which was a modification of Thomas Edison's carbon telephone transmitter. He revived the term "microphone" to describe the transmitter's ability to transmit extremely weak sounds to a Bell telephone receiver. He invented the induction balance (later used in metal detectors) and in 1879 he transmitted and received radio waves using a detector made of carbon. Despite Hughes' facility as an experimenter, he had little mathematical training. He was a friend of William Henry Preece.
In 1879, years before Heinrich Hertz and sixteen years before Guglielmo Marconi had demonstrated the existence of radio waves, Hughes was already transmitting and receiving electromagnetic waves over several hundred metres. At the time his work failed to satisfy colleagues’ demands for scientific method and proofs and so Hughes didn't mention his work until a magazine article was published in 1889. James Clerk Maxwell's theories were not yet well received and Hughes' transmissions were wrongly assumed to be electromagnetic induction. His achievements went unrecognized for decades. Marconi knew Hughes through Preece and Lodge.
Hughes patented his telegraph system in the United States in 1855, and in less than two years, a number of small telegraph companies, including Western Union in early stages of development, united to form one large corporation — Western Union Telegraph Co. to carry on the business of telegraphy on the Hughes system. In Europe, Hughes’ Telegraph System became an international standard.
Hughes came from a Welsh musical family. At only six years old, he is known to have played the harp to a very high standard. At an early age, Hughes developed such musical ability that he is reported to have attracted attention of Herr Hast, an eminent German pianist in America who procured for him a professorship of music at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky.
He became one of the most highly decorated inventors of his time. Honors included a Grand Gold Medal in 1867 awarded at the Paris Exhibition, the Royal Society gold Medal in 1885, and The Albert Gold Medal, Society of Arts in 1897. For his numerous inventions and discoveries, especially the Printing Telegraph and Microphone, Napoleon III awarded him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour awarding him Commander of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honour. He also was awarded: The Order of Saint Meurice and Saint Lazare (Italy), The Order of the Iron Crown (Austria) which carried with it the title of Baron, The Order of Saint Anne (Russia), The Noble Order of Saint Michael (Bavaria), Commander of the Imperial Order of the Grand Cross of the Medjidie (Turkey), Commander of the Royal and Distinguished Order of Carlos III (Spain), The Grand Officer’s Star and Collar of the Royal Order of Takovo (Servia), and Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium).
The Hughes Medal is awarded by the Royal Society of London "in recognition of an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly electricity and magnetism or their applications"
DAVID EDWARD HUGHES (1831-1900), Anglo-American electrician, was born on the 16th of May 1831 in London, but the earlier part of his life was spent in America, whither his parents emigrated when he was about seven years old. In 1850 he became professor of music at the college of Bardstown, Kentucky, and soon afterwards his attainments in physical science procured his appointment as teacher of natural philosophy at the same place. His professorial career, however, was brief, for in 1854 he removed to Louisville to supervise the manufacture of the type-printing telegraph instrument which he had been thinking out for some time, and which was destined to make both his name and his fortune. The patent for this machine was taken out in the United States in 18J5, and its success was immediate. After seeing it well established on one side of the Atlantic, Hughes in 18J7 brought it over to his native country, where, however, the telegraph companies did not receive it with any favour. Two or three years afterwards he introduced it to the notice of the French Government, who, after submitting it to severe tests, ultimately adopted it, and in the succeeding ten years it came into extensive use all over Europe, gaining for its inventor numerous honours and prizes. In the development of telephony also Hughes had an important share, and the telephone has attained its present perfection largely as a result of his investigations. The carbon transmitters which in various forms are in almost universal use are modifications of a simple device which he called a microphone, and which consists essentially of two pieces of carbon, in loose contact one with the other. The arrangement constitutes a variable electrical resistance of the most delicate character; if it is included in an electric circuit with a battery and subjected to the influence of sonorous vibrations, its resistance varies in such a way as to produce an undulatory current which affords an exact representation of the sound waves as to height, length and form. These results were published in 1878, but Hughes did much more work on the properties of such microphonic joints, of which he said nothing till many years afterwards. When towards the end of 1879 he found that they were also sensitive to "sudden electric impulses, whether given out to the atmosphere through the extra current from a coil or from a frictional machine," he in fact discovered the phenomena on which depends the action of the so-called "coherers" used in wireless telegraphy. But he went further and practised wireless telegraphy himself, surmising, moreover, that the agency he was employing consisted of true electric waves. Setting some source of the "sudden electric impulses" referred to above into operation in his house, he walked along the street carrying a telephone in circuit with a small battery and one of these microphonic joints, and found that the sounds remained audible in the telephone until he had traversed a distance of Soo yards. This experiment he showed to several English men of science, among others to Sir G. G. Stokes, to whom he broached the theory that the results were due to electric waves. That physicist, however, was not disposed to accept this explanation, considering that a sufficient one could be found in well-known electromagnetic induction effects, and Hughes was so discouraged at that high authority taking this view of the matter that he resolved to publish no account of his inquiry until further experiments had enabled him to prove the correctness of his own theory. These experiments were still in progress when H.R.Hertz settled the question by his researches on electric waves in 1887-1889. Hughes, who is also known for his invention of the induction balance and for his contributions to the theory of magnetism, died in London on the 22nd of January 1900. As an investigator he was remarkable for the simplicity of the apparatus which served his purposes, domestic articles like jam-pots, pins, &c., forming a large part of the equipment of his laboratory. His manner of life, too, was simple and frugal in' the extreme. He amassed a large fortune, which, with the exception of some bequests to the Royal Society, the Paris Academy of Sciences, the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and the Paris Societe Internationale des Electriciens, for the establishment of scholarships and prizes in physical science, was left to four London hospitals, subject only to certain life annuities.