When Thomas Edison told American Magazine that he was working on a phone that could “call” dead people, the country went wild. In the months that followed, the magazine received over 600 letters to the editor about the so-called “spirit phone.” Click here for the full story.
Below, courtesy of Gerald Fabris, Museum Curator of Sound Recordings at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, are the ten most common responses—from least to most popular —to Edison’s new “discovery.” The list is based on a sampling of 97 letters.
10. Too late! The ghosts are already working on the same machine.
9. This phone will kill us all! We need to believe in God and immortality!
8. Dead people have no memory, so how can you communicate with them?
7. How can I get one of these phones? Or, can I sell them when they hit stores?
6. How does the machine work?
5. Duh — you can’t talk to spirits unless you use a human medium, silly.
4. Another “Communication With the Dead” machine? I already have one of those!
3. Beware, Mr. Edison! The spirits that would answer this phone are evil!
2. I am a medium. So call me if you need any help, Mr. Edison!
1. We whole-heartedly support this machine! (Of these, three letters appear to be from people formally educated in the field of science.)
List courtesy of Gerald Fabris
|High note: In this undated seance photo from the Hulton Archives, a musical instrument appears to rise in the background. If only they had a working spirit phone, they could have called in a request! Photo: Copyright Hulton Archives via Getty Images.|
Learn more in these GE Reports stories:
* “Edison’s Forgotten ‘Invention’: A Phone That Calls the Dead”
* “In 1900 Electric Vehicles Reigned and Edison Charged Them!”
* “Edison speaks! Cracking the pallophotophone code“