According to legend, the first words transmitted over the phone were as a phrase in German: "Das Pferd frisst keinen Gurkensalat" (or, in English: The horse doesn't eat cucumber salad). On October 26, 1861 this sentence was spoken by a German physicist and inventor, son of a baker from Gelnhausen, Johann Philipp, who constructed one of the first electric telephones, which is now called the Reis Telephone in his honor.
Johann Philipp Reis was born in 1834 in the German town of Gelnhausen. In infancy, he lost his mother, so was raised under the tutelage of his grandmother. Philip was 6 years old when his abilities attracted the attention of teachers at his school in Kassel. At the age of 10 he was admitted into Garnier's Institute in Friedrichsdorf, where he learned English and French. And aged 14 he became a student at Flight Hasselskogo Institute in Frankfurt am Main, where he also mastered Latin and Italian. But the greatest interest Philip showed was in science. And despite the fact that at the insistence of relatives he was accepted as apprentice in a company selling paints, he did not leave his favorite business. In his spare time he took lessons in mathematics and physics and attended lectures on mechanics. Then, upon leaving work, he became involved in the Frankfurt Institute, where he joined the Physics Society of Frankfurt.
In 1855, after returning from military service, Reis began to teach mathematics and other sciences, giving private lessons and reading public lectures. In 1858 he took up a post at the Garnier Institute. In 1959 he married and moved to Friedrichsdorf.
For several years, Johann Philipp returned again and again to his invention. Inspired by the theoretical foundations of energy transfer, he speculated that electricity, just like light, was invisible. Therefore, like light, it can freely spread in space without physical guides. The results of his experiments, he described in the article 'On the Radiation of Electricity', which in 1859 he sent for publication in the journal Annalen der Physik, for the attention of Professor Poggendorff. The manuscript was rejected. But Reis was not going to give up..
The idea of transmitting sound using electricity came to Johann Philip in the process of studying hearing. He pondered it for a few years. It was based on the concept of the French telegraphist Charles Bursel, published in 1854.
In 1860 Reis constructed an apparatus capable of transmitting sound over a distance of up to 100 meters. In 1862, Philip turned again to the editors - to publish a report on the invention, but was denied once again. Reis linked the nature of such an attitude with his status as a simple school teacher. In fact, Professor Poggendorff did not concede the possibility of voice at a distance.
The Telephon, which was how Reis called his invention, was demonstrated to different audiences, but no one displayed a high level of interest. Reis' apparatus operated on Charles Bursel's telegraph principle: the circuit opens at a speed of vibration of the metal plate at a particular sound frequency. The result was not perfect: the device conveyed sound satisfactorily, but the tone was much distorted. At that time there was no one, who would undertake to improve the device. However, it was the Reis unit that was adopted as the basis for further development by Bell, Edison and Berliner in telephony history.
Johann Philip Reis died in January 1874, at the age of 40, after a painful illness. He was buried in the Friedrichsdorf cemetery. After the invention of the telephone in 1878, the members of the Physics Society of Frankfurt erected a monument at his grave.