Fabrezan: Charles Cros – Inventor & Poet

Musée Charles Cros
Musée Charles Cros

Born Émile-Hortensius-Charles Cros on 1 October, 1842, in the small village of Fabrezan, France which is located in the Department Aude in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Charles Cros was a highly respected poet and inventor. Among his work were various methods of photography including a process for color photos and improvements in telegraph and recorded sound technology.

Charles Cros worked on reproducing sounds which were engraved on a diaphragm. He gave his invention the name Paléophone and submitted his plans to the Academy of Sciences in Paris on 30 April, 1877. In this document he details his method. The letter was read to the public 3 December that same year.  When translated, his hypothesis is that a

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method of sensing oscillation of a membrane then with that tracing, re-create the oscillation with consideration for its strength and extent.

These findings were published on 10 October, 1877. The American inventor, Thomas Edison premiered a working model before Cros had a chance to do so. Mr. Edison’s succeeded in patenting his phonograph in January of 1878. There is nothing to indicate that either had previous knowledge of the others work.

Among his published works were:

Solution générale du problème de la photographie des couleurs (1869- non-fiction)

Poetry: Le coffret de santal (1873 and 1879), Plainte (1873), Le Fleuve

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(1874), La Vision du Grand Canal des Deux Mers (1888) and Le Collier de griffes (posthumous, 1908)

Among his friends were the poet Arthur Rimbaud and the artist Édouard Manet. Ernest Coquelin took Cros’ poem, The Kippered Herring as his inspiration to create what he called monologues, short theatrical pieces. A format that has been copied by countless others.

L’Académie Charles Cros, which is the French equivalent of the US Recording Academy was named in his honor.

He died in Paris on 9 August, 1881

Bisous,

Léa

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Charles Cros

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