Technology: From the Ordinary to the Sublime

Electricity and New Means of Communication

“No, Sirs! Not only is the candlestick telephone a marvelous scientific device, but its low price, solid construction, rapid installation, ease of use, and the infinite services it will render put it in the forefront of truly practical modern discoveries.”

Tribune des inventeurs (Inventors’ Tribune), 1891, advertisement

Photography, a history in pictures, excerpts from the Série encyclopédique des leçons de choses illustrées
(Encyclopedic Series of Illustrated Practical Lessons)
, Imagerie Pellerin, [1884].

Photography, a history in pictures, excerpts from the Série encyclopédique des leçons de choses illustrées
(Encyclopedic Series of Illustrated Practical Lessons)
, Imagerie Pellerin, [1884].

The Kodak panoramic camera, in La Nature (Nature), October 13, 1900.

In the 19th century, technology related to images and communication (photography, cinema, telephone and telegraph) was developed and quickly became widespread. Invented by Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Daguerre,

photography soon attracted many innovations. In 1898, Kodak began marketing a folding pocket camera, and in 1900, they introduced a panoramic camera, the No. 1 Kodak Panoram.

Explaining color in photography, in La Nature (Nature),
January 7, 1899.

Poster for the Lumière Cinematograph Moving-Picture Projector and Phonograph,
Nicolas Tamagno, [1907].

Poster for the Lumière Cinematograph Moving-Picture Projector, Marcellin Auzolle, 1896.

L’invention du cinématographe

Louis Ducos du Hauron was the pioneer when it came to three-color photographic printing. The cinema’s earliest successes were thanks to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, who also developed the Kinetograph and the Kinetoscope.

But starting in 1895, the Lumière brothers perfected the invention, to which they gave the name Cinématographe 30, and introduced it to a broad public.

La tour Eiffel vue du Trocadéro (15 avril - 12 novembre 1900). @ Institut Lumière

Instructions pour l'usage domestique du téléphone-Bell
(Instructions for Household Use of the Bell Telephone)
Cornelius Roosevelt, 1878.

As for communication, the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, was introduced in France by Clément Ader, an aviation pioneer. The system comprised a microphone and two earphones.

The device also required two batteries composed of a glass bottle filled with electrolyte and connected electrodes for it to work.

Pneumatic mail tubes, in Les merveilles de la science (Scientific Marvels, first volume of Supplements),
Louis Figuier, [1867-1891].

“How Cinematography Works,” in La Nature (Nature), September 29, 1900.

Like the telegraph and pneumatic tube lines, the telephone developed as a means of communication in the late 19th century.

These inventions were explained in detail in magazines like La Nature (Nature) and other popular-science publications, as well as in more technical books, like Roret manuals.

Nouveau manuel de la télégraphie électrique
(New Manual of Electric Telegraphy)
Nicolas-Edme Roret, 1882.

That collection created by Nicolas-Edme Roret in 1822 comprised more than 315 volumes devoted to all sorts of trades, including one about electric telegraphy.

Modern technologies, like electricity and photography, appeared frequently in the books, whose small format made it easy to slip them into your pocket!

Poster for evening performances with electric lighting, [1890].


An all-electric house, excerpt from Histoires & scènes humoristiques, contes moraux, merveilleux, (Humorous Scenes & Stories, Moral and Marvelous Tales) Imagerie Pellerin, [1892].