Person

H. J. L. Struycken was a Dutch otolaryngologist, phonetician, and acoustician. After studying medicine in Groningen, in 1893 he started working at the Voorburg psychiatric hospital near Vught, where he attempted to distinguish psychiatric conditions from neurological speech disorders. His interest in phonetics and acoustics took Struycken to France and Germany, to visit clinics and approach instrument makers who could produce tuning forks for him to use in his clinical research.

1896
1950
Person

Jules Antoine Lissajous was a high-school teacher, then held prestigious administrative posts in the education system of various parts of France. He had trained in physics, and defended his dissertation on vibratory phenomena in 1850.

1822
1880
Object, Instrument, Technology

This Excelsior phonograph is a model based on the Edison phonograph and produced by the Excelsiorwerke Cöln factory in Cologne, Germany, between 1903 and 1906. The original Edison phonograph (invented in 1877 by Thomas Alva Edison) is an iconic piece of historical sound technology that is universally associated with the beginning of sound reproduction in the late nineteenth century. It is based on the direct transfer of the vibration of air, caused by a sound source, onto a writing surface, then its playback. During recording, a stylus cuts a spiraling groove into the cylinder.

Object, Instrument, Technology

The Tefifon is an audio player that uses cartridges containing plastic tape with a vertical arrangement of grooves representing sound. It is a branch of analog audio technology that shares some characteristics with other, better-known devices such as the phonograph or the 8-track tape cartridge. The Tefifon combines these developments in novel ways, introducing features that were lacking in other technologies of the era.

Object, Instrument, Technology

See also Tuning fork

Picture: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Object, Instrument, Technology

The vibration microscope is an electromagnetically-driven adaptation by Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) of the earlier optical comparator by Jules Antoine Lissajous (1822-1880). The device allows one to determine the frequency of a tuning fork or other vibrating object with respect to a fork of known frequency, by way of Lissajous figure analysis.

Object, Instrument, Technology

A windchest is a wooden box that holds air to be delivered to organ pipes, which are inserted in valved holes. These two examples were used in lectures to demonstrate the different characteristics of organ pipes of varying sizes and shapes.

Object, Instrument, Technology

Wooden sticks, when dropped on the floor, sound a variety of tones. While the bars of a xylophone are varied in tone by changing their length, these “tone bars” are all of the same length and width, but have different thicknesses and different densities and elastic properties.

Object, Instrument, Technology

The Case Collection of Physics Instruments (CCPI) has several dozen forks mounted on resonance boxes (see Fig. 1).

Object, Instrument, Technology

The fork-clock was first described by N. Niaudet in 1866. It is used to determine the frequency of a fork to high accuracy. The vibrating fork drives the clock in the same way as a pendulum in a pendulum clock–by way of an escapement mechanism. This Max Kohl clock uses a 100 Hz fork to drive a tiny escapement. Energy is provided by an enclosed wind-up spring. The three dials record the total number of vibrations. The absolute frequency of the fork can then be determined by comparison with an astronomical time standard.