[78-L] Spot the Microdot

Michael Biel mbiel at mbiel.com
Thu Mar 4 08:59:16 PST 2010

A major error??  The ENTIRE ARTICLE is based on an error.  It does state 
that the courts eventually found that it was Edison who invented the 
carbon button mic.  The reason is that Berliner invented a different 
version of the loose coupled microphone.  The mic you see on the right 
is a reconstructed model of his first experiment. It is a child's drum 
with a pinhole in the center of the drumhead.  You see dangling down on 
a wire a metal ball.  There is a similar one on the back of the 
drumhead.  When the durmhead vibrates the balls bounce around and make 
and break perfect contact giving a variable resistance to a current.  
There is NO CARBON involved.  I once wrote that there was no 
relationship between this and the carbon button and got back a LONG 
letter from Oliver Berliner explaining the principle between the two 
balls being loosely coupled was the same as the carbon graduals being 
loosely coupled in the mic and changing resistance as they got moved 
around.  So there is a tie-in, but it was Edison who used carbon, not 
Berliner. Berliner's June 4, 1877 original patent application apparently 
made no mention of carbon, but an additional Sept 3, 1880  filing added 
an option to have a layer of carbon.  Edison had already been using carbon.

Is this the error you spotted?

Mike Biel  mbiel at mbiel.com 


David Lewis wrote:
> Here we go with WIRED weighing in on the history of the microphone. There is at least one major error in this article -- isn't that the case always? Nevertheless, it would be fun to hear about it from you guys; you always manage to find stuff that even I miss:
> http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/03/0304berliner-invents-microphone?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20wired/index%20%28Wired:%20Index%203%20%28Top%20Stories%202%29%29&utm_content=Google%20Feedfetcher 
> Uncle Dave Lewis
> uncledavelewis at hotmail.com

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