This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
In an article by Count du Moncel, published in Scientific American Supplement, No 274, page 4364, the author, after describing Dr. Herz's telephonic systems, deferred to another occasion the description of a still newer system of the same inventor, because at that time it had not been protected by patent. In the current number of La Lumière Electrique, Count Moncel returns to the subject to explain the principles of these new apparatus of Dr. Herz, and says:
I will first recall the fact that Dr. Herz's first system was based upon the ingenious use (then new) of derivations. The microphone transmitter was placed on a derivation from the current going to the earth, taken in on leaving the pile, and the different contacts of the microphone were themselves connected directly and individually with the different elements of the pile. The telephone receiver was located at the other end of the line, and when this receiver was a condenser its armatures were, as a consequence of this arrangement, continuously and preventively polarized, thus making it capable of reproducing conversation.
This arrangement evidently presented its advantages; but it likewise possessed its inconveniences, one of the most important of these being the necessity of employing rather strong piles and consequently of exposing the line to those effects of charge which react in so troublesome a manner in electrical transmissions when they occur on somewhat lengthy lines. Now the fact should be recalled that Dr. Herz's principal object was the application of the telephone to long lines, and he has been applying himself to this problem ever since. He at first thought of employing reversed currents, as in telegraphy; but how was such a result to be attained with systems based upon the use of sonorously-vibrating transmitters? He might have been able to solve the problem with the secondary currents of an induction bobbin, as Messrs. Gray, Edison, and others had done; but then he would no longer have been benefited by those amplifications which are furnished by the variations of pressure-derivations in microphones, and this led him to endeavor to increase the effects of the induced currents themselves by prolonging their duration, or rather by combining them in such a way that they should succeed each other, two by two, in the same direction; and this is the way he solved the problem in the beginning.
The fact should also be recalled that Dr. Herz had, from his first experiments, recognized the efficiency of those microphonic contacts that are obtained by the superposition of carbon disks or other semi-conducting substances. He has employed these under different arrangements and with very diverse groupings, but, as a general thing, it has been the horizontal arrangement which has given him the best effects.
Let us suppose, then, that four systems of contacts of this nature are arranged at the four corners of an ebonite plate, C C (Figs. 1 and 2), at A, A¹, B, B¹, and that they are connected with each other, as shown in the cuts - that is to say, the upper disks, e, f, g, h, parallel with the sides of the plate, and the lower disks, A, A¹, B, B¹, diagonally. Let us admit, further, that the plate pivots about an axis, R; that the disks are traversed by small pins fixed in the plate; and that small leaden disks rest upon the upper disks. Finally, let us imagine that the plate is connected at one end, through a rod T, with a telephone diaphragm. Now it will be readily understood that the vibrations produced by the diaphragm will cause the oscillation of the plate, C C, and that there will result therefrom, on the part of the disks, two effects that will succeed one another. The first will be, for the ascending vibrations, an increase of pressure effected between the disks of the left side, by reason of their force of inertia being increased by that of the lead disks; and the second will be, for the disks to the right, and, for the same reason, a reduction of pressure which will take place through resilience, at the moment of change in direction of the vibrating motions.
If the current from a pile, P, traverses all these disks, through the connections that we have just mentioned, and passes through the primary helix (through the wire, I) of an induction coil H H' (Fig. 2), located beneath the apparatus, and if the secondary current from this bobbin corresponds, through the wire I, with a telephone line in which there is interposed a telephone or a speaking condenser, there will be set up an inverse induced current, which, being reversed as a consequence of the crosswise connections of the disks, will continue the action of the first or increase its duration, and, consequently, its force, through the telephone receiver.
The results of this system are very good; but Dr. Herz has endeavored to simplify it still further, and with this object in view has experimented on several arrangements. For example, to obtain inversion a contact was simply placed on each side of the vibrating plate. Although the movements of this latter are not, as we know, of the nature of ordinary sonorous vibrations, it was thought that they might prove to be in opposite directions on the two sides of the plate, and that one of the contacts might be compressed while the other was free. So notwithstanding the advantages of this arrangement, it was thought necessary to place the plate vertically in order to give the same regulation to the two contacts which it is essential should be identical. But it became difficult to regulate by weight; and even to succeed in regulating at all, it became necessary to employ two parallel diaphragms, vibrating in unison, and each carrying its contact, but in opposite directions. Afterwards, the horizontal arrangement was again adopted; but, by a clever combination, the two principles applied by Dr. Herz - derivation and inversion - were united. The current is then led to a double contact, where it divides. This contact is arranged under the plate in such a way that its two points of variable resistance act in opposite directions to each other, or, in some apparatus, so that one of the points has no variation, while the other is in action. The result that occurs may be easily imagined. The system has been experimented with under different forms; in one case the derivation is simple, that is, a single one of the currents being sent into the line, while in another case it is double, each of the branches being provided with a bobbin and communicating with the receiver. In the latter case the result is remarkably good, but the apparatus is not free from a certain amount of complication, and demands, moreover, particular care in its construction, experience having shown that the induction coils must not be equal, but that they must present resistances combined according to the circuit doing duty. It should be added that researches have been continued as to the bodies proper to be employed as microphonic contact, with the result of bringing out the important fact that the number of substances that can be put to this use is almost unlimited. The contacts of the Herz apparatus are now being made of conducting bodies (metals for example) reduced to powder and conglomerated by chemical means with a sort of non-conductive cement. The proportion of the elements depends upon the conductivity of the materials employed, and it alone determines the microphonic value of the compound, the nature of the elements apparently having scarcely any influence.
Nor has the speaking condenser been neglected. As regards this, efforts have seemingly been made toward finding a convenient arrangement and a regular mode of construction, the good working of these apparatus being absolutely dependent upon the care with which they are set up.
In Dr. Herz's opinion, the telephone is not to remain a single apparatus, varied only as to form, but, on the contrary, must be actually modified according to the purposes for which it is designed. He thinks that a telephone operating at great distances must differ from a city apparatus, and that an instrument for transmitting song can not be absolutely the same as one for conversational purposes. So he has endeavored to create types that shall prove appropriate for these different applications.