Alexander Graham Bell and the Photophone: The Centennial of the Invention of Light-Wave Communications, 1880-1980

The invention of light-wave communications in 1880 by Alexander Graham Bell and Sumner Tainter is reviewed. The events leading to the invention, the optimization of selenium detectors and the phenomenon of sound emission by substances illuminated by a concentrated beam of intermittent light, are discussed. Finally, attention is given to Bell's photophone papers and patents and the opinions of his contemporaries about the significance of the invention.

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