Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/557

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The following pages are a hurried and imperfect abstract from advanced-sheets of this book, which, besides its wealth of historical matter and its affluence of illustration, contains much of scientific value contributed directly by Professor Thompson.

The biographical sketch of Reis, with which the book begins, possesses an interest independent of his connection with the telephone. Philipp Reis, as he is generally called, was born January 7, 1834, in the small provincial town of Gelnhausen in Cassel, in which his father was a master-baker and farmer. His education began with the best of all teaching—object-teaching by his father, and moral and religious inculcation by a grandmother. The German common school followed, in which his early proficiency induced plans for a higher education, which were thwarted by his father's death when Philipp was less than ten years old.

He, however, went to the institute at Friedrichsdorf, where he became specially interested in the study of English and French, and where the valuable library of the institution was a store of nourishment for his mind. At fourteen he was promoted to Hassel's Institute at Frankfort-on-the-Main. Here he learned Latin and Italian, and distinguished himself by his devotion to the natural sciences and mathematics.

Compelled at sixteen to enter as an apprentice in a color establishment, he devoted all his leisure time to his continued education. A little later he is at the institute of Dr. Poppe in Frankfort, and one of several young men who mutually instructed each other. This experience induced Reis to look forward to teaching as his future vocation.

In 1851 he became a member of the Physical Society of Frankfort, of which Professor Böttger, Professor Abbe, and Dr. Oppel were active members. In 1855 he gave his year of military service. In Frankfort again, with marvelous energy he worked in the laboratory and pursued the higher branches of education. In 1858 he accepted a position as teacher in natural science in the institute of Hofrath Garnier, in Friedrichsdorf, the same in which he had been a student; and in 1859 he married and founded his peaceful home.

In 1859 he undertook an original research "On the Radiation of Electricity," and a paper on the subject, offered to Poggendorf for his "Annalen," was declined—the rejection being felt as a serious blow by the young and sensitive teacher.

His lessons in physics in 1860 stimulated him to the construction of the first electric telephone, which, indeed, he had attempted several years before. In a little workshop behind his house he made the first telephone with his own hands, carrying the wires thence to an upper room of the dwelling, and also from the physical cabinet of Garnier's Institute across the play-ground into one of the class-rooms, for experimental telephonic communication—the boys, it is said, being