"The Telelectroscope and its Inventor", 
American Monthly Review of
18, July 1898, 93-94.


    The invention of the telelectroscope has called forth several articles in the reviews on the new instrument and its inventor, Jan Szczepanik. One of the first was contributed by Jacques Boyer [1] to the Revue des Revues of April l; another appeared in the May number of the Humanitarian; and in Heft 17 of Vom Fels zum Meer we have, in addition to Dr. Kreusner's article, a sketch of Maximilian Plessner and his theory, by Gustav Klitscher [2].

    Maximilian Plessner, of Berlin, is described as a pioneer in the invention of the telelectroscope [3]. For some years he has made experiments in the same field as Jan Szczepanik, and has published an account of the results he has obtained. But it has been left to Jan Szczepanik to startle the world with the apparatus by which objects in the natural colors can be seen hundreds of miles away. Thus while we can now hear the voices of our friends at a distance, we shall in the near future be able to see them as well. Of the working of the new instrument the Humanitarian writes as follows:

    "The basis of the telelectroscope may be said to be the idea of employing oscillating mirrors. At each end there are two mirrors. The mirrors at the one end reflect the required picture, which being broken up into a number of points, the reflected ray is converted into an electric current and is capable of being conveyed as great a distance as it is possible to extend the wires. The current is then once more transformed into the corresponding ray of light."

    It is expected that the invention will prove a valuable aid in telegraphy:

    "Instead of transmitting a long message or dispatch by, say, Morse's system, as soon as it was written out (in long or short hand) it would at once be photographed by means of the telelectroscope, and immediately be ready if need be for the printer, thus saving much of the time and labor which is bestowed upon the present method.

    "Take, for example, the article you are writing. Suppose you wished it to appear in print within a few hours of time in an Edinburgh paper: each page as you wrote it could be photographed at once straight into the compositors' room and set up in type while you were writing the second page."

    Jan Szczepanik is described as a man "with an infinite capacity for taking pains." Though he is only twenty-five, he has already patented an invention to simplify the manufacture of carpets, tapestry, brocades, silks, cottons etc. This invention is in use at some textile works in Barmen.

    There is not much biography to hand as yet, but we are told that Herr J. Szczepanik was born at Krosno, a village in Poland. Three years at the University of Cracow brought him to the end of his financial resources and he returned to his native village where he obtained a post as schoolmaster. It is reported that the authorities of the Paris Exposition of 1900 have paid him a million and a quarter of dollars not to part with his rights in his new apparatus till the exposition is over.


(1) Jacques BOYER est l'auteur de  La Transmission télégraphique des images et des photographies, C. Mendel, Paris, 1914, 87 p.

(2) Le catalogue de l'Österreischischer Nationalbibliothek signale une comédie de Gustav KLITCHER, Ninette im Schnee, Enich, Berlin, 1896.

(3) Maximilan PLESSNER est également cité in SCHÖFFLER, B., Die Phototelegraphie und das elektrische Fernsehen, W. Braumüller, Wien, 1898, 27 p. qui signale une brochure sur la télévision électrique (Elektrische Fernsehen) qu'il aurait publiée en 1897 ou 1898. Il est également l'auteur de Ein Blick auf die grossen Erfindungen des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts. 2 Hfte. Berlin, 1892.-93. 8o.

Text kindly communicated by Jim Zwick.

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Histoire de la télévision      © André Lange
Dernière mise à jour : 28 janvier 2002