Alexander Bain (watchmaker)

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Alexander Bain (1811–1877)

Alexander Bain (born October 12, 1811 in Watten , Caithness , † January 2, 1877 in Kirkintilloch , East Dunbartonshire ) was a Scottish watchmaker and inventor . Alexander Bain built the first electric clock in 1841 and registered a patent for the copy graph - the first fax machine - in 1843 . For this he developed the basics of electronic image decomposition and thus the basis for fax and television .

Pending Patents

  • In 1841, Bain and John Barwise received a patent for an electric clock
  • 1843 - Patent for a fax machine (the first commercial fax service is set up between Paris and Lyon in 1865 ("pantélégraphes"); newspapers used the system to transmit photos from 1906)
  • 1846 - Patent for a chemical telegraph . Since with the Morse telegraph the signal recording with a mechanically moved pen was relatively slow (approx. 40 words per minute), Bain let the electric current of the transmission signal act directly on a continuous paper strip soaked with a mixture of ammonium nitrate and potassium ferrocyanide , where it made a blue mark left behind. This increased the transmission speed considerably. During a demonstration, the system rendered 282 words in 52 seconds. Since such a speed could not be achieved with manual input of signals, Bain used punched tape for this , whereas Samuel Morse took legal action because he saw his patents infringed.
  • 1849 - Patent for a system for recording telegraphic messages on a paper disk


  • Heinrich Schellen: The electromagnetic telegraph. Vieweg, Braunschweig 1850, p. 102, no. 45 ( digitized in the Google book search).

Web links

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