Puskás, Tivadar

(Pest, September 17th, 1844 – Budapest, March 16th, 1893)

Puskás, Tivadar

Tivadar Puskás is an outstanding person in the Hungarian history of engineering with the most fertile imagination and ideas. He became famous for the telephone exchange and the telephone newsreader.

He received his higher education in Theresianum, then at the Technical University in Vienna. However, he was not able to complete his studies due to his father's death.. Later he undertook work in London and in Transylvania, and then he traveled to the United States and made some business. In 1876 Puskás returned to Europe for a short time, and began to build the telegraph network in London and Brussels. His concept was to create a telegraph apparatus that on its switchboard the lines of the factories and offices in the city could be connected to it and to each other, as well. However, the idea was considered too expensive.

Having heard that A.G. Bell presented his new invention, the telephone, Puskás traveled there at once, and realized that he should build a telephone exchange.

He visited and convinced Edison that the telephone a novel device which needed to be made available to the public. From the autumn of 1876 to the summer of 1877 Puskás worked with Edison on the idea of the telephone exchange at the Edison's laboratory in Menlo Park.

In the summer of 1877, Puskás as Edison's European agent moved to London and in 1878 to Paris, where he directed the installation of the first telephone network and exchange. In October 1879 Tivadar Puskás became a member of the board of directors in the Edison Company.

Meanwhile, he trained his brother, Ferenc, who with Edison's consent, obtained exclusive rights to build telephone exchanges on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The two brothers returned home and began to install a telephone exchange in Budapest, which started to operate with twenty five subscribers on May 1st, 1881 as the sixth telephone exchange in Europe. Three months after opening the first exchange he set up the second one, then, by setting up another one in Buda the number of telephone exchanges in Budapest increased up to three.

In 1881 at the World Fair in Paris Puskás presented “Jumbo,” a giant 27-ton dynamo of Edison's company, the phonograph and electric lighting. Jumbo supplied electricity to 1,000-1,200 light bulbs with tremendous success.

Puskás was also interested in the telephone newsreader, i.e. the idea of transmission to several stations at the same time.

When on the exhibition he has shown the General Telephone Company of Paris he organized the first "live broadcast". He broadcast a performance from the Paris Opera to a room at the exhibition where 16 listeners were able to hear the performance on earphones.

On February 14th, 1882, at the spring festival organised in the building of the Vigadó (Municipal Concert Hall) of Pest he broadcasts Erkel's opera "László Hunyadi" from the National Theatre. But at this time only a limited number of listeners could enjoy the broadcast. In order to make it possible to listen to it on innumerable receivers at the same time, the sound had to be amplified. Puskás's sound multiplicator, a forerunner of today's amplifying valve served for this purpose.

After several unsuccessful business Tivadar Puskás, poor and ill, returned to Budapest, where , the Budapest Telephone Company, Puskás Tivadar and Co. almost went bankrupt. Fortunately the Minister of Industry and Trade who comprehended the potentialities of the telephone, took the telephone network into public ownership, and rented it to Puskás. Further enhancement, therefore, was supported by the state.

After Puskás founded the telephone exchange of the city of Budapest, he invented the forerunner of the radio, the telephone broadcaster. On February 15th, 1893, for the first time in the world, the „speaking newspaper” began to speak in Hungary, in Budapest. In the first period the telephone newsreader did not have independent wires, the subscribers requested connection from the telephone exchange and they could listen to permanent broadcasting from 9 in the morning till 9 in the evening on the telephone. Later individual wires were laid down for the telephone newsreader. Today's wired radios are based on the structural elements of Tivadar Puskás's telephone newsreader.

A month later the telephone broadcast released the sad news that Tivadar Puskás died of heart attack, at the age of 49.