David Edward Hughes bigraphy, stories - English-American inventor

David Edward Hughes : biography

16 May 1831 - 22 January 1900

David Edward Hughes (16 May 1831 – 22 January 1900), was a Welsh-American scientist and musician. Hughes was co-inventor of the microphone and teleprinter, inventor of the spark-gap transmitter and inventor of the crystal radio. He was a harpist,and a professor of music.


Hughes was born to Welsh parents in Bala in 1831 and emigrated to the United States at the age of seven. He was an experimental physicist, mostly in the areas of electricity and signals. He also invented an improved microphone, which was a modification of Thomas Edison's carbon telephone transmitter. He revived the term "microphone" to describe the transmitter's ability to transmit extremely weak sounds to a Bell telephone receiver. He invented the induction balance (later used in metal detectors). Despite Hughes' facility as an experimenter, he had little mathematical training. He was a friend of William Henry Preece.

The first book-length biography of David Hughes, by Ivor Hughes and David Ellis Evans, was published in 2011 by .


Hughes came from a Welsh musical family. At only six years old, he is known to have played the harp to a very high standard. At an early age, Hughes developed such musical ability that he is reported to have attracted attention of Herr Hast, an eminent German pianist in America who procured for him a professorship of music at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky.


He became one of the most highly decorated scientists of his time. Despite the initial erroneous dismissal of his radio system, he was still elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1880 and won their Royal Medal in 1885. He became one of the most highly decorated inventors of his time, with honors that included:

  1. A Grand Gold Medal awarded at the Paris Exhibition, in 1867.
  2. Royal Society gold Medal in 1885.
  3. Society of Arts Albert Gold Medal in 1897.
  4. Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, presented by Napoleon III for his inventions and discoveries in 1860,http://www.angloconcertina.org/files/HughesforWebsite.pdf granting him the title "Commander of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honour".

He was also awarded:

  1. The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
  2. The Order of the Iron Crown (Austria) which carried with it the title of Baron (Freiherr)
  3. The Order of Saint Anne (Russia)
  4. The Noble Order of Saint Michael (Bavaria)
  5. Commander of the Imperial Order of the Grand Cross of the Medjidie (Turkey)
  6. Commander of the Royal and Distinguished Order of Carlos III (Spain)
  7. The Grand Officer’s Star
  8. Collar of the Royal Order of Takovo (Serbia)
  9. Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)


  • David E Hughes, Telegraph (with alphabetic keyboard and printer) issued May 20, 1856
  • David E Hughes, Duplex Telegraph issued January 4, 1859
  • David E Hughes, Printing Telegraph (with type-wheel) issued January 25, 1859

Invention of radio

In 1879,Prof. D. E. Hughes' Research in Wireless Telegraphy, The Electrician, , 1899, pages 35, , 93, 143-144, 167, 217, 401, 403, 767, J.J. Fahie, 1899, pages 289-316:1878 is mentioned as the beginning of Hughes' research, possibly as a misreading of The Electrician 1899 source , 1917 Hughes discovered that sparks would generate a radio signal that could be detected by listening to a telephone receiver connected to his new microphone design.. Biography by Ivor Hughes and David Ellis Evans, published 2011., He developed his spark-gap transmitter and receiver into a working communication system using trial and error experiments, until eventually he could demonstrate the ability to send and receive Morse code signals out to a range limited to . Prominent attendees of the demonstrations wereA History of Wireless Telegraphy by J.J.Fahie, 1901. By George William von Tunzelmann. The Office of "Knowledge", 1902. Pages 60–65. Sir William Crookes, The Fortnightly Review, , William Crookes, February 1, 1892, pages 174-176 Sir William Henry Preece, William Grylls Adams, and James Dewar.

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Living octopus

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