Reis, Philipp

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Reis, Philipp Gender: M
born on 7 January 1834 at 01:00 (= 01:00 AM )
Place Gelnhausen, Germany, 50n11, 9e11
Timezone LMT m9e11 (is local mean time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Müller
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 16°18' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 11°14 Asc.s_libcol.18.gif 22°14'

Philipp Reis


German scientist and inventor. In 1861, he constructed the first make-and-break telephone, today called the Reis telephone.

The telephone was invented by at least five different people in four different countries. Although the Scottish-American Alexander Graham Bell is generally credited as the "winner" in the race to invent the telephone in the period between 1850 and 1876, his invention was preceded or paralleled by the German Philipp Reis, the Belgian-French M. Charles Bourseul, the Italian Antonio Meucci, and the American Elisha Gray.

In his short life (he died at 40), the German science teacher Philipp Reis accomplished a remarkable feat that brought him neither wealth nor fame. In 1852, Reis began work on his "artificial ear" project by gathering some common materials found around his house in Friedrichsdorf, Germany, not far from Frankfurt.

In a homemade lab in a shed in his backyard, and on a very limited budget, Reis assembled components that few people would associate with the construction of a telephone: a violin, a knitting needle , a large cork, a coil of wire, and a sausage.

For his first experiments in the 1850s, Reis used a sausage skin stretched across a hollowed-out cork as a membrane for his crude microphone (der Geber). Using wax, he attached a metal contact to the membrane. This contact was linked to the strings of a violin, which served as a receiver or speaker (der Empfänger). Later he would use an electromagnetic receiver.

After nine years of work, Reis had refined his device to the point that he could present it to Frankfurt's Physics Association (Der Physikalische Verein) on 26 October 1861. His lecture on "Telephony Using Galvanic Current" did not result in as much enthusiasm as Reis might have hoped for. But two years later, 50 copies of his "Telephon" (he was one of the first to coin the term) were manufactured by a German firm, and a few more in England.

Unfortunately, the Reis telephone was not practical enough to be a commercial success. It could transmit sound, particularly music, but it was difficult to understand the spoken word. Reis would die of tuberculosis on 14 January 1874, two years before Bell's U.S. patent was filed in 1876.

Ironically, in his patent fight with Bell, Elisha Gray used the legal defense that it was Reis and not Bell who had invented the telephone, and thus Bell was not entitled to his patent. But the court ruled that the Reis version could not be considered a real telephone, and Bell won the patent struggle.

Link to Wikipedia biography


Source Notes

Arno Müller, vol 2


  • Vocation : Education : Teacher
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field