Elisha Gray Holds Important Place in TIMARA Studio

Roderic Knight, Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology

To the Editors:

I was very pleased to see Elisha Gray briefly featured in the Nov. 20, 2015 issue of The Oberlin Review. Indeed, all Obies should know him: an Ohio native, Oberlin student, then Oberlin faculty member and the true inventor of the telephone.

But even more notable, especially to the TIMARA studio, is that he also invented the first-ever electro-mechanical musical instrument in 1874. It was called the Musical Telegraph. It had a two-octave keyboard and generated sounds from metal reeds activated by electromagnets. It is now at the Smithsonian. Plans are being made for an on-campus exhibition some time during the next school year.

– Roderic Knight

Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology