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Théâtrophone ("the theatre phone") was a telephonic distribution system that allowed the subscribers to listen to opera and theatre performances over the telephone lines. The théâtrophone evolved from a Clément Ader invention, which was first demonstrated in 1881, in Paris. Subsequently, in 1890, the invention was commercialized by Compagnie du Théâtrophone, which continued to operate till 1932.

Similar systems

Similar systems elsewhere in Europe included Telefon Hírmondó (est. 1893) of Budapest and Electrophone of London (est. 1895). In the United States, the systems similar to théâtrophone were limited to one-off experiments. Erik Barnouw reported a concert by telephone that was organized in the summer of 1890; around 800 people at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga listened to a telephonic transmission of The Charge of the Light Brigade conducted at Madison Square Garden.

In fiction

The Andrew Crumey novel Mr Mee (2000) has a chapter depicting the installation of a théâtrophone in the home of Marcel Proust.

The Eça de Queiroz novel A Cidade e as Serras (1901) mentions the device as one of the many technological commodities available for the distraction of the upper classes.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Théâtrophone" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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