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Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918 (1 of 8)
Historic Tech
Wiltshire, UK

I specialise in historically fascinating and sometimes important Antique, Vintage & Retro Technology. In all instances age and value are not the defining virtue of my stock but social importance. Clients include global museums and collectors, as well as everyday people who sometimes just fondly remember when these things were new! All items are underpinned by extensive research and market understanding. I have been trading for many years under the name eddintheclouds antiques and from time to time will also add non Tech related items for sale to this site. I am always keen to buy interesting and unusual technology items from any era.

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Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918

REF: LA355208
£950
€1,064
$1,169
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Certified DealerApproved listing
Description
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

measurements

Height:
20 cm
Width:
7.8 cm
Depth:
10 cm

declaration

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

condition

This is offered in original untouched condition and has just been mounted onto an oak base.

location

This Central Mechanism for an Optophone - Blind Reading Machine c.1918 is located in United Kingdom

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