During the 112th AES Convention in 2002 May 10-13, the AES offered a historical session in which many activities were organized such as a full paper session with historically related subjects, and the presentation of old equipment including demonstrations.
Interesting old equipment of many kinds was displayed in glass cabinets. Recordings were made using one of the first Neumann Condenser Microphones, onto a cutting machine dated 1938, using original Sherlock Masterplates. Philipp Reis-s original telephone from 1861 was also demonstrated. Although unknown in most circles, his invention was created 15 years before Bell invented the electromagnetic telephone.
The historical room was well attended and became a special meeting point for many participants. Due to the overwhelming topic appeal, the historical paper session was very overcrowded. An authentic historical atmosphere was present and tangible during all historical presentations.
Jay McKnight, chairman of the historical committee, organized the committee meeting which took place in the historical room. Participants from all over the world discussed the different points of the agenda in this agreeable historical environment amidst photos of Edison, Bell, Reis and of many old microphones and loudspeakers. Herman Wilms and Ernst-Jo. Voelker, working closely with Jay McKnight, prepared and carried the responsibility for the historical committee activities. On behalf of Jay McKnight, who was unable to attend, Prof. Dr. Voelker chaired the meeting of the historical committee. Vice Chair Ted Sheldon took the minutes.
All related activities took place within the boundaries of the historical room to ensure that the historical authenticity was preserved. And it was a huge success. All involved felt that this historical session was a successful idea and gave many visitors the opportunity to see what's behind the generous work, important inventions and genius in the field of electroacoustics. Approximately 800 visitors viewed and held discussions with the ever-present experts. A special thanks to the authors, especially to Hans-Otto Hoffman for his demonstrations of old loudspeakers, direct cutting and old microphones. Ernst-Jo Voelker presented the first telephone of Philipp Reis and demonstrated the audible frequency response of this first transmitter (microphone). Manfred Krause explained the legendary Magnetophone with ac bias used for tape recording with an astounding high quality of sound for the time period in which it was developed.
Always present were the assistants as a equipment operators who are still under apprenticeship. Without the constant help of the assistants, the program would not have been as successful as it was. They were: Tom Langlotz, student at the Technical University of Darmstadt and chairman of the student section in Darmstadt; Sebastian Weiß, student at the University of Darmstadt and a student section member; Valeska Krebs and Michael Sommer as equipment operators. This crew also organized the historical film recordings which were done by Irv Joel, who is a member of the historical committee of the AES and responsible for the oral history recordings.
"The historical activities have almost taken our breath away," Prof. Voelker stated and added: " We rarely found the time to see all the other stimulating activities at the AES show. This historical activity was one of the important stones in the mosaic of what makes the AES convention so enormously interesting."
Hans-Joachim Voelker, IAB Oberursel (Institut für Akustik und Bauphysik)
ed jm 2002-09-19