Johann Philipp Reis

German inventor Johann Philipp Reis

Johann Philipp Reis was a self-taught German scientist and inventor. In 1861, he constructed the first make-and-break telephone, today called the Reis telephone.
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  • 1874
    Age 40
    In December he lay down and, after a long and painful illness, died at five o'clock in the afternoon of January 14, 1874.
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  • 1873
    Age 39
    His voice began to fail as his lung disease became more pronounced, and in the summer of 1873 he was obliged to forsake his tutoring duties for several weeks.
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  • 1867
    Age 33
    Reis obtained brief renown, but rejection soon set in. The Physical Society of Frankfurt turned its back on the apparatus which had given it lustre. Reis resigned in 1867, but the Free German Institute of Frankfurt, which elected him as an honorary member, also slighted the instrument as a mere "philosophical toy".
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  • 1862
    Age 28
    It appears from the report of Herr von Legat, an inspector with the Royal Prussian Telegraphs, which was published in 1862, Reis was quite aware of this principle, but his instrument was not well adapted to apply it.
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    Reis had difficulty interesting people in Germany in his invention despite demonstrating it to (among others) Wilhelm von Legat, Inspector of the Royal Prussian Telegraph Corps in 1862.
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    In 1862, he again tried to interest Poggendorff with an account of his "telephon", as he called it.
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  • 1860
    Age 26
    In 1860, he constructed the first prototype of a telephone, which could cover a distance of 100 meters.
  • 1859
    Age 25
    Reis imagined electricity could be propagated through space, as light can, without the aid of a material conductor, and he performed some experiments on the subject. The results were described in a paper, "On the Radiation of Electricity", which, in 1859, he mailed to Professor Poggendorff for insertion in the then well-known periodical, Annalen der Physik.
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    On 14 September 1859, Reis married, and shortly after he moved to Friedrichsdorf, to begin his new career as a teacher.
  • 1858
    Age 24
    His intention was to finish his training at the University of Heidelberg, but in the spring of 1858 he visited his old friend and master, Hofrath Garnier, who offered him a post in Garnier's Institute.
  • 1855
    Age 21
    In 1855, he completed his year of military service at Kassel, then returned to Frankfurt to qualify as a teacher of mathematics and science by means of private study and public lectures.
  • 1850
    Age 16
    His uncle wished him to become a merchant, and on March 1, 1850, Reis was apprenticed as a paints dealer in the establishment of J. F. Beyerbach, of Frankfurt, against his will.
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  • 1834
    Age 0
    Born in 1834.
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