Who Invented The Microphone?

From rockstars to renegades, preachers to politicians, everyone has a voice. Depending on who's listening, that voice could sometimes use a little bit of assistance. Thankfully, we have the microphone. The microphone is one of those modern marvels that people often take for granted, but when you really think about it, the ability to be heard by thousands upon thousands of people in one place at one time is pretty remarkable. It's a luxury that loudmouths and listeners alike weren't able to enjoy throughout previous centuries. 

It's the reason we have music. It's the reason we have podcasts. It's the reason we can record, recount, and rant as we see fit. But who first thought of the idea for the microphone and took it seriously enough to make it a reality? Different stages of the modern microphone have come and gone like all great innovations, but the earliest version on record (so to speak) was produced by a man named Emile Berliner in 1877 (via Wired).

Is this thing on?

According to My New Microphone, Emile Berliner conceived the first-ever microphone with Thomas Edison. However, details got a little staticky when the Supreme Court ruled in 1892 that it was Edison alone who could claim credit for the invention. Sources are still unsure as to what kind of involvement he really had at the ground level, but in any case, the earliest version of the microphone was born somewhere between the minds of both men (per Wired). It was a device that could amplify and transmit sound.

While other versions of the primitive microphone were being built by a series of other innovators at the time, including Alexander Graham Bell, Berliner's device proved to be the most effective. The "loose-contact transmitter," as he called it, was constructed out of two electrical contacts divided by a thin layer of carbon. A diaphragm attached to the "loose" contact vibrated when struck by a sound wave, while the other contact was connected to an output device.

Despite its limited range of versatility in comparison to today's microphone, it was the most usable prototype at the time. Bell bought the patent to incorporate its technology into what became the first ever working telephone (via Wired).