The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hughes, David Edward

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HUGHES, David Edward, English-American inventor: b. London, 16 May 1831; d. there, 22 Jan. 1900. When very young came with his parents to the United States, of which he became a citizen. He was educated at Saint Joseph's College, Bardstown, Ky., where he was appointed professor of music (1850) and later of natural philosophy. In 1855 he patented his first important invention, that of the well-known printing telegraph which bears his name. It was at once adopted in America, and by 1876 by practically every European country. In 1877 he settled in London. In 1878 Hughes announced to the Royal Society his invention of the microphone, an ingenious instrument which not only transmits sound, but so magnifies faint sounds as to make them distinctly audible. The microphone is now in universal use in the telephone. Another important invention, that of the induction balance, was completed by Hughes in 1879, and in 1880 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which awarded him its gold medal in 1885. He was a member and at times an officer of the Society of Telegraph Engineers (now Institution of Electrical Engineers), and a manager and vice-president of the Royal Institution. In his later years he experimented along the lines which some years later led to the discoveries of Hertz, Branly and Marconi, resulting in wireless telegraphy. He left a large fortune which was divided among four London hospitals and a number of scientific bodies. A list of his scientific papers will be found in Royal Society of London, Catalogue of Scientific Papers. Consult Anon., ‘D. E. Hughes’ (in Nature, Vol. LXI, p. 325, London 1900).