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Circular telephony

The idea of making the telephone (still at the dawn of becoming an instrument of communication between people) a true means of mass communication was first experimented in Paris with the Théatrophone, a service launched during the International Electric Exhibition in 1881, thus five years after Alexander G. Bell's patent, which allowed subscribers (about a hundred) to listen to live operas, plays and concerts transmitted from major theatres onto their own telephone set. By 1885 some imagined that, thanks to the Théatrophone, buildings would soon have «the opera on all floors» just as they already had water and gas.

A prediction that did effectively come true, but with different technologies. The main experiment of circular telephony attempted in the world was the one that took place in Budapest in 1893, the "Telefon Hirmondo", that counted more than 6,000 subscribers for its daily news service (predominantly) and entertainment. In 1910 an analogous service, the "Araldo Telefonico" (literal translation of the Hungarian name) was launched in Rome, and by 1914 it had more than 1,300 subscribers.

One might wonder why circular telephony, already making headway, was, in appearance, so completely supplanted by the radio. One thing is certain, that model of communication is not a pure historical curiosity: it reappeared afterwards (in the Sixties) under the form of broadcasting and, as of the Seventies, grew vivaciously under the form of cable television.




















Emile Girardeaugirardeau

Marconi believed in short waves before anyone else, before the experts, before the amateurs; and he never stopped dedicating himself to them even while others continued to pay no attention.



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