March 10, 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell's first experimental telephone works.
June 17, 1946 - In Saint Louis, Missouri, AT&T and Southwestern Bell introduced the first American commercial mobile radio-telephone service
Early 1991 - The first digital mobile phones are developed and sold for commercial use.
April 4, 2002 - The epitome of perfection *sarcastic snort*, MIT Media produce the first working prototype of the Vibraphone.

Yes, we have come a long way in phone technology. From the early days of Graham Bell's archaic phones, to the modern sleek phone, to the mobile phone - and now we have Vibrating Mobile Phones. Now I know mobile phones can already vibrate, but as Angela Chang of MIT Media explains, "They're either on or off." In other words, when there is a call or a message it vibrates, otherwise it is still. New Vibraphones allow you to send a vibration to the other Vibraphone you are connected to. How does this work? Chang explains:

"When you grip my prototype latex cellphone, your fingers and thumb wrap around five tiny speakers which vibrate against your skin around 250 times per second. Beneath these speakers sit pressure sensors, so you can transmit vibration as well as receiving it."

The MIT Media group did a user response survey from a group of students attending the Cambridge College, Massachusetts. The users found ways to use the vibrations, such as interrupting the other speaker, showing they were angry, doing a "virtual" handshake, and some students even developed a kind of morse code. "It was pretty easy to communicate, though we didn't specifically pre-arrange codes," says David Milovich, one of the students who tried out the device.

This all seems fine to me, but is there really a point to all this? Sure, we could use Vibraphones for all of the above mentioned reasons, but isn't this just an over-rated expensive novelty? "And imagine actually being able to shake someone's hand when you close a business deal," says Chang. That's all very good and well, but at a cost of over US$3000 (current estimate manufacturing cost), is this really a feasible choice for your average person? I think not. To me, the Vibraphone seems like a waste of research. A video phone would do worlds greater in displaying emotions than simple Vibraphones. I say, a waste of research and an over-expensive novelty. What is the world coming to?

A vibraphone, or vibes, is a mallet percussion instrument (also called keyboard percussion) and a close relative of the marimba, xylophone, and glockenspiel. It consists of a set of thin flat metal bars arranged similarly to a piano keyboard and pitched from the F below middle C to 2.5 or 3 octaves higher, with vertical resonator tubes underneath. At the top of the tubes are circular disks mounted on a long rod that is rotated by electrical motor. In between and overlapping what would be the white and black sets of keys on a piano is a felt damper, which is depressed by a foot pedal to allow sustained notes.

Vibraphones are played by striking the bars with vibraphone mallets--yarn wrapped around one inch diameter rubber, plastic or wood balls, all mounted on the end of thin birch or rattan sticks. The force of the mallet striking a bar causes it to vibrate, while the padding provided by the yarn serves out damp out unpleasant overtones. The sound produced by this metal bar flexing hundreds of times a second is amplified by the resonance in the tube below it. The characteristic vibrato of the vibes is due to the rotating disks opening and closing over the resonator tubes, changing the amount of resonance, and thus, loudness of the sound.

Vibes have a purer and more distinct tone than their wooden mallet percussion cousins, yet are arguably as mellow as the marimba. Their sound also takes considerably longer to decay (thanks to the metal bars' mass and flexibility), making it easy to built up large chords that would be difficult or impossible on other mallet instruments. These characteristics make it popular in jazz music, which is its most common use, and the home of its most talented players. (e.g. Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Red Norvo and Gary Burton.

The vibraphone was invented between 1916 and 1924 by Herman Winterhoff of the Leedy Manufacturing Company, and this first edition was sold between 1924 and 1929 as the Vibraphone, a trade name. This version had steel or wooden bars and no damping mechanism. The damping pedal was a later improvement, invented in 1927 by William Gladstone. A year later, the J. C. Deagan company brought out the Vibraharp, which came with a pedal and had aluminum bars, and essentially all the features of today's vibraphone. Two well known major modern-day vibraphone manufacturers are Deagan and Musser.

Everything Quests - Content Rescue

mblase tells me: I don't think the vibes were associated with jazz at all until Lionel Hampton joined Benny Goodman -- but what do I know, I've only seen the movie. :-)

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