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Charles Wheatstone (February 6, 1802 – October 19, 1875)

English scientist Sir Charles Wheatstone was inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era. Invented and contributed in several fields of science, including electrical generators, encryption, photography, acoustics and music .Best known for his contributions in the development of the Wheatstone bridge.

Feb 06_Forum_Sciencescript_Open_Access_Charles Wheatstone


Wheatstone was appointed professor of experimental philosophy at King’s College, London, in 1834. In 1837, He partnered with William Cooke an ex-Indian Army officer to co-invent an electric telegraph. Wheatstone-Cooke needle telegraph was the first working telegraph in Great Britain, operated on the London and Blackwall Railway. Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke used the principles of electromagnetism in their telegraph to point a needle at alphabetic symbols. However, The Wheatstone-Cooke telegraph was discarded after American inventor, Samuel Morse invented the Morse Telegraph that was adopted as the standard in telegraphy.

Inventions & Achievements:

•    1821 – Invented the Enchanted Lyre.
•    1827 – First to coin the phrase microphone.
•    1829 – Invented an improved accordion.
•    1834 – Charles Wheatstone used revolving mirrors to measure the speed of electricity traveling through nearly 8 miles of wire. Although his calculations mistakenly lead him to the conclusion that electricity travels faster than light, his ingenious experiment corrects the common belief of the time that electricity travelled instantaneously.
•    1834 – While working at King’s College in London, he conducted pioneering experiments in electricity and invented: an improved dynamo, and two devices to measure and regulate electrical resistance and current: the Rheostat and an improved Wheatstone bridge. Wheatstone bridge contained an exposition of the well-known balance for measuring the electrical resistance of a conductor originally invented by Samuel Hunter Christie.
•    1838 – Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope that showed three-dimensional photographs. Three-dimensional or stereo photography had the optical illusion of real depth by presenting slightly different images to each eye of the viewer.
•    1854 – Invented the Playfair Cipher, an encryption technique.

Awards & Honours:  In 1868, Wheatstone was knighted, after his completion of the automatic telegraph. He also had been made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. Since 1836 he had been a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1859, elected as a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1873 became a Foreign Associate of the French Academy of Sciences. The same year French Society for the Encouragement of National Industry awarded him the Ampere Medal. In 1875 he was created an honorary member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was LL.D. of Cambridge and a D.C.L. of Oxford.

During the autumn of 1875, While on a visit to Paris and engaged in perfecting his receiving instrument for submarine cables, he caught a cold, which produced inflammation of the lungs, an illness from which he died in Paris, on 19 October 1875.

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