Historic Tech is located in Royal Wootton Bassett, United Kingdom
Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918
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This is the central important 'reading' mechanism from an Optophone and dates to c1920. First designed in 1913 by the English scientist and writer Edmund Edward Fournier D'Albe the Optophone was the world's first optical reading machine and was intended for use by the blind to 'read' ordinary books. Although it would eventually prove to be an extremely influential invention, when released the Optophone managed to stir up plenty of publicity but regrettably almost no sales. The key component was this small spinning siren disc which broke the light source up into pulses before it hit the page and could be read and interpreted by the nearby Selenium cell. It really was a very clever invention, but as Fournier D'Albe was a scientist and not an Engineer, it took until 1918 for the machine to be refined enough for commercial production with help from the Scottish instrument makers Barr & Stroud. As Fournier failed to get the backing of the all important Blind Institutions who acted as gate-keepers to the Blind community,it has been estimated that as few as a dozen of his machines were ever made and sold (making this item a very rare survivor). Indeed I only know of two machines still in existence. The first was donated by the inventor to the UK Science Museum during the 19-teens, and the second is in the collection of the charity Blind Veterans UK. This very original and untouched part being offered is from Fournier's 'Black-Sounding' Optophone as improved by Barr & Stroud between 1918-1920 (although interestingly this has a few tiny modifications not shown in existing drawings of the time). As such a rare invention I very much doubt I'll ever come across another example again either in whole or part. I have mounted this component onto an oak base for display. Dimensions: wooden Base 15 cm x 15cm ; Component 7.8 cm wide x 10 cm deep x 20 cm high
Historic Tech has clarified that the Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918 (LA355208) is genuinely of the period declared with the date/period of manufacture being c1920
This is offered in original untouched condition and has just been mounted onto an oak base.
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This Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918 is located in Royal Wootton Bassett, United Kingdom