History of Image Transmission Technology (1843-1923)


The project which focusses on the early history of fax-technology (copying telegraphs and phototelegraphy) subdivides the history of image transmission technology in three subsequent steps. The digitalization of messages on the one hand as well as the synchronization of sending and receiving apparatuses denote the epistemologic framework of our media archeology.

    Invention (1843-1851)In 1843, the Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain had a copying telegraph patented whom he held to be able to transmit handwritten messages in their original shape over long distances. Four years later, Frederick Bakewells concurring system appeared on the scene and caused a difficult copyright quarrel. Both systems were presented on the London World Exhibition in 1851.Establishment (1856-1884) The Italian physicist and catholic priest Giovanni Caselli devised the first model of a machine he called pantelegraph in 1856. The French emperor Napoleon III saw the military potential of the machine and invited Caselli to France where he started to work with the mechanic Claude Froment improving the pantelegraph.Success (1900-1923) The physicist and radio pioneer Arthur Korn succeeds in solving the technical problems. He calls his machine telautograph. For the first time, the scanning, transmitting and receiving is a fully electric process. The apparatus is used by the police, the military, the weather forecast service as well as the press. In 1923, Arthur Korn writes the first history of phototelegraphy.


  • Department of Literature, Art and Media Studies
  • Zukunftskolleg
Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Exzellenzinitiative third-party funds research funding program 875/08
Further information
Period: 01.01.2007 – 31.05.2009