from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a device that transmitted sound on a beam of light

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An apparatus for the production of sound by the action of rays of light.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An instrument by which a beam of light may be made to transmit spoken words to a distance.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • In 1879, Professor Graham Bell, the inventor of the speaking telephone, and Mr Summer Tamter, brought out an ingenious apparatus called the photophone, by which music and speech were sent along a beam of light for several hundred yards.

    The Story of Electricity

  • Bell continued his experiments in communication, which culminated in the invention of the photophone — transmission of sound on a beam of light; in medical research; and in techniques for teaching speech to the deaf.

    Born on March 3 | myFiveBest

  • These included 14 for the telephone and telegraph, 4 for the photophone, 1 for the phonograph, 5 for aerial vehicles, 4 for hydroairplanes, and 2 for a selenium cell.

    Born on March 3 | myFiveBest

  • It took almost fifty years of experimentation to convert Bell's idea for a photophone into a medium that could broadcast Herbert Hoover's speech.

    Eric Burns: The Ultimate Success of the Photophone

  • Bell called it a photophone, a device that would allow a person not just to speak to someone else but to look at home in the process.

    Eric Burns: The Ultimate Success of the Photophone

  • Jeff Jarvis calls it anonymous instant photophone moblogging, a phrase which is giving me a heavy wallop of jargon vertigo right about now.

    Boing Boing: December 28, 2003 - January 3, 2004 Archives

  • In addition, Bell invented the photophone to demonstrate that light could be used to carry sound information, which in turn eventually led to the development of motion pictures with sound.

    The Pawprints of History

  • This is the phenomenon which, as you know, has been utilized by Prof. Graham Bell in that most ingenious and striking invention, the photophone.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 275, April 9, 1881

  • By the kindness of Prof. Silvanus Thompson, I have a few slides to show the principle of the invention, and Mr. Shelford Bidwell has been kind enough to lend me his home-made photophone, which answers exceedingly well for short distances.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 275, April 9, 1881

  • Bell used the photophone or radiophone over several hundred feet, Ruhmer over several miles.

    The Poisoned Pen


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.