Mihály, Dénes

(Gödöllő, July 7th, 1894 – Berlin, August 29th, 1953)

One of the most successful Hungarian engineers in the pioneering period of television and sound-film, who, with a number of his ideas and 300 patents, achieved significant results in the field of communications in the first half of the 20th century.

During his high school studies he published books on automobiles and motorcycles. He graduated in 1912 from Vörösmarty Mihály High School (Gimnázium) and was admitted to the József Technical University Web link of Budapest, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

On 7 June 1916, he produced a successful movie with a sound track.

Dénes Mihály developed his television system and patented it in 1917 under the name of TELEHOR, which was capable of transmitting still pictures over a distance of many kilometers. As a result of 76 patent applications, the TELEHOR system became world famous.

He submitted his patent application for sound-film under the name of PROJECTOPHON in 1918. His method provided good quality sound tracks with 35 mm film stock using optical sound recording, and he can thus be regarded as the inventor of the sound film.

He moved to Berlin in 1925. In 1926, he joined AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft) – the largest German trust for the production of electrical equipment – and acted as professional adviser-engineer.

The upward trend in his financial situation enabled him to implement TELEHOR in practice. He presented his equipment at the Fifth Radio Exhibition in Berlin in 1928. Supported by Paul Krassmann – a business magnate – he established his own enterprise named TELEHOR A.G., which took the production and marketing of the devices in hand. It is on March 8th, 1929 that the German Empire Post implemented the first wireless picture transfer – the first television transmission – at the wavelength of 175.4 m of the Berlin–Witzleben radio transmitter station, by using the transmitter equipment produced by TELEHOR A.G. He delivered a presentation in Budapest, too.

Dénes Mihály continuously improved his equipment. First, he improved the picture decomposition by using rotating mirrors placed in a fixed corona of mirrors. In co-operation with E.H. Traub, a physicist, he developed a new light source by improving a so-called Kerr–cell, which enabled pictures to be transferred decomposed into 240 lines. In 1935 the Mihály - Traub television set appeared on the market. Supported by English investors, he founded a new company named Universal Tone Film Syndicate Ltd.

Lee de Forest, an American inventor who participated in the development of the electron tube and was a friend of Dénes Mihály, highly appreciated Mihály's film-gramophone. From among his patents relating to audio frequency devices, headphones and loudspeakers with parabolic cones became popular in Germany.