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San Francisco Call, August 28, 1898, page 23:


Prince of Wales in bed
Programs LONDON, Aug. 11.--Just at present we who are compelled to remain in the city are greatly excited over the latest feat of science. This is a contrivance that brings opera-houses, lecture halls, theaters and churches into our very rooms. No going out on a rainy night to hear a favorite prima donna. We simply sit in our cozy parlors, call up "central" and have the music turned on for us. And it all sounds almost as well as if we were right in the opera-house.
    And whom have we to thank for this great beneficence? Why, the Prince of Wales.
    If his Royal Highness had not accidentally broken his kneecap some time ago it is not likely that this great achievement would have become common for a long while yet. Of course it was bound to come in time, for didn't Bellamy in his "Looking Backward" foretell it?
    When the Prince of Wales was first laid up as a result of injuring a knee he sadly missed his music and theaters.
    What was to be done? All manner of things were suggested. The phonograph was tried but not found to be satisfactory. Performers, of course, could come to his room, but even this was not at all times desirable.
    As usual, necessity produced the man. This was a young fellow who knew all about telephones, and he easily rigged up an apparatus connecting the Prince's apartments with Albert Hall. The result was most gratifying, and His Royal Highness lay back on his pillows and enjoyed the music to the utmost. He heard it as plainly as if he were in the hall.
    Being able to gratify every want that can be gratified, the Prince naturally was not satisfied with only the performance in Albert Hall. He cried for more, and it was not long before the sickroom was connected with all the principal houses of amusement in London, as well as with a number of churches for their Sunday sermons.
    As soon as the plan had proved a success the telephone company naturally began to make arrangements to let the public enjoy it as well as the Prince. This was not a difficult matter, as the apparatus is very simple, the only essential being that those desiring the music and sermons had to be subscribers to the regular telephone service.
    As for cost, that is within the reach of people of moderate means. The regular telephone service costs about $50 a year. The music and sermons also cost $50 a year, making a total of $100. Not very much when the amount of pleasure and convenience is considered.
    For want of a better name this apparatus has been christened the "electrophone." It is a very simple device, and does not interfere with the regular telephone service except when one or both lines are "busy." Of course those who want a special wire for theaters only can get it at a little extra cost.
    The wires used are the telephone wires. In the theater, church or concert hall transmitters are placed in suitable positions and connected with central by a heavy wire. These transmitters are simply large cones for collecting the sound waves with the usual telephone diaphragm transmitter in the end.
    In the theaters and opera houses the transmitters are placed on the footlights in the most advantageous positions. In the churches it is necessary to have several. One is placed in the pulpit, another on the altar and another on the chancel rail. In this instance some ingenuity was necessary in order to conceal the transmitters. In the Holy Trinity Church this was accomplished by putting the transmitter into a box shaped and decorated to look like a Bible. Of course it is advantageous to get the transmitter as close to the preacher as possible.
    At the receiving end of the wire is the private dwelling. There is practically no change in the instrument. A cap, which is the terminating point for two or more rubber tubes, is screwed on to the usual hand receiver. This is then placed in a suitable stand and the rubber tubes, each of which has one ear piece, are placed in the ears. All sound that strikes the transmitter is distinctly heard by everybody who has a pair of the ear tubes. Similar ear tubes are used in the street nickel-in-the-slot phonographs.
    When a person desires to hear the music at a certain theater "central" is called up in the usual way and the connection made with the transmitter on the stage, the same as when a number is called. And it is done just as quickly. By the time the receiver is arranged the performance is ready to begin. As many people can hear the dialogue as there are pairs of tubes, and this is limited only by the size of the plate that screws on to the end of the receiver.
    The electrophone manager says he notices a largely increased demand for bedside installations, as opposed to installations in dining rooms and drawing rooms. He says that many women go early to bed, and then lie and listen to song and music, which, as I think I have mentioned, is conveyed to their brain centers by the simple indiarubber tubing, ending in a pair of ear caps, which fit neatly, and need not be held up. This luxurious application of science is not, I trust, for Sabbaths. Or is it? If so, does it not portend increased absence from church? It really does sound comfortable, the idea of having breakfast in bed and then being switched on to Mr. Haweis, Mr. Price Hughes, Mr. Macrae, Mr. Adler, at a moment's notice. Then mark, if you do not like a sermon you cannot well walk out. But in this churchgoing by electrophone you have only to ring up if you are being bored or nettled or abused beyond bearing, to be switched on to a gentler monitor. I am not at all sure that, as Thomas Ingoldsby's monks said of the wicked Jackdaw, the devil is not in this electrophone. What if the preachers (who are only human, after all)--what if they succumbed to its Satanic wiles, and took to discoursing from their reverend bedsides! Suppose sermons from bedside to bedside became the fashion! And all because a Prince broke his kneecap!
    I asked if it would be possible for an outsider to listen to a debate in the House of Commons. The answer was that no less than four hundred members had fallen in with the suggestion.
    "And do you find your Sunday service is much used?" I asked the manager of the company.
    "I should think it is. One feature is the demand for hymns. Many a client will ask to be put on to three or four different churches or chapels during one service."
    "Do you find any difficulty in persuading ministers to allow the placing of transmitters?"
    "None, I think. True, we have at present no connection with St. Paul's and the Abbey; but here are the lists of places of worship and play houses both."
    They are so interesting (as a sign of the times) that we give them both:
Garrick. |  Canon V. Barker, Marylebone.
Lyric. |  Canon J. Fleming, St. Michael's, Chester Square.
Daly's. |  Canon Shuttleworth, St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey.
Drury Lane. |  Chief Rabbi H. Adler, Gt. Synagogue.
Duke of York's. |  The Rev. T. H. Acheson, All Souls', Langham Place.
Savoy. |  The Rev. J. H. Cardwell, St. Anne's, Soho.
Palace. |  The Rev. J. W. Dawson, Highbury Congregational.
Prince of Wales. |  The Rev. J. F. Kitte, St. Martin's-in-the-Fields.
Shaftesbury. |  The Rev. H. R. Haweis, St. James', Westmoreland Street.
Empire. |  The Rev. H. Price Hughes, St. James' Hall.
Tivoli. |  The Rev. G. F. Pentecost, Presbyterian Church of England.
Avenue. |  The Rev. A. J. Robinson, Holy Trinity, Marylebone.
Gaiety. |  The Rev. C. Voysey, Theistic Church, Piccadilly.
Pavilion. |  The Rev. Alexander Macrae, Scotch National Church.
Alhambra. |  The Rev. Father Ignatius, Portman Rooms.
Suburban Theat's. |  The Rev. H. R. Wakefield, St. Mary's, Bryanston Square.