He doesn’t look very happy in this picture, but this is David E. Hughes, former child prodigy harpist turned inventor who was a very successful and significant man. He was born 180 years ago yesterday.
Hughes was a contemporary of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and paddled in the same new technology waters as them. He made significant contributions to radio (he transmitted electromagnetic waves in 1879; 16 years before Marconi but put it to one side in the face of peer scepticism) and telegraph technology (he invented a printing add on that made his fortune).
Hughes also invented the early microphone and in doing so helped set the modern recording industry on it’s way.
There is a Hughes Medal that was named after him and is still awarded each year by the Royal Society “in recognition of an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly electricity and magnetism or their applications”. You can hear a strange computer lady talk about it here.
A biography of David E. Hughes, “Before We Went Wireless” was published this year. You can find out more about it here or watch the promotional video: