News From Terre Haute, Indiana


January 23, 2006

Historical Perspective: Pimento native K. Monroe Turner invented dictograph at beginning of 20th century

When K. Monroe Turner returned to Terre Haute in January 1908 to visit with family and friends, he seemed to walk a little bit differently.

Turner lost some hair and gained several pounds after his father — the Rev. James M. Turner — died July 25, 1904. However, those subtle changes did not seem to affect his gait.

Perhaps it was just the way friends envisioned him. Though he was down to earth, Turner had become famous. Since he last visited his widowed mother Louisa and sister Ida May Hedges, Turner had become the toast of the scientific community and feted by kings and queens.

The founder and president of General Acoustics Co. with headquarters at 1255 Broadway in New York City, Turner had invented a device called the “dictograph.”

“It is quite simple in design and construction,” Turner explained to a curious newspaper reporter before rushing out for a dinner engagement at the Terre Haute House.

“There is one ‘Master Station’ and any number of ‘substations.’ The sound of a voice enters the master station, which contains an extremely sensitive disk called ‘the metrophone.’ It concentrates the sound waves and transmits them to the substations at the other end of the line.

“The speaker at the master station does not have to speak into anything, or hold anything, and can speak in an ordinary tone of voice within any distance, from three to 15 feet,” Turner elaborated.

“The sound-concentrating receiving instrument is as sensitive as the human ear,” he proudly added. “The master station is connected with the substations by wiring.”

In 1908, businesses could lease the dictograph for a minimum sum of $5.50 per month, which included a master station and up to five substations. Additional master stations cost a minimum of $3 a month. The modern dictograph is popularly referred to as the “Dictophone,” though that is a brand name.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010