"Song, Mirth & Music": Broadcasting before broadcasting - a comparative approach to the history of the Electrophone, 1894-1938

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Social Policy Studies


The Electrophone brought information, education and entertainment into UK homes through telephone lines as early as 1895 long before the emergence of radio, television and online broadcasting services. It is an important early example of the convergence in telecommunications to integrate services, current offerings and means of communication under one core technology. Today, few people have heard of the Electrophone, yet this system played a fundamental role in preparing the cultural, institutional and social context for the emergence of broadcasting. This studentship will develop the first ever comprehensive study of the Electrophone. Studying the electrophone now is particularly timely. As broadcasting's approach and terminology are appropriated by web companies such as You Tube, Netflix and Spotify, the Electrophone shows that broadcasting systems have always circulated across different platforms and technologies. Using a media archaeology approach, the student will interrogate how this case can help us to better understand the present configuration of digital media. The student will be encouraged to engage with both media and contemporary media theory in order to explore the significance of the Electrophone for enhancing our understanding of technological and social change in media and communication.


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