Theremin Patent

A patent for the original theremin, the other-worldly musical instrument that inspired MouSing, can be found on Google-Patents here. Patents this old do not presently have machine-readable text. A close viewing of the patent image suggests that optical character recognition software would be challenged, with plently of stray dots, optical noise, and characters that run together.

A couple of years ago, before patents this old could be viewed on-line at all, we went to the local patent repository and made our own copy to digitize, with the goal to convert to html. The Google/USPTO link actually obtained a better image than we were able to produce. The paper is thin, and text tends to bleed through from the other side of the page. Still, with some effort, we were able to convert to text, which we present here:


Application filed December 5, 1925, Serial No. 73,529, and in Germany December 8, 1924.

This invention relates to sound generating apparatus or instruments of the type embodying an electrical vibrating system. It aims to provide a novel method of and means for producing sounds in musical tones or notes of variable pitch, volume and timbre in realistic imitation of the human voice and various known musical instruments. One object of the invention is to provide a simple and inexpensive instrument capable of producing musical tones according to the method embodying the same, the pitch, volume and timbre of which sounds may be varied over a wide range, and with delicate graduations.

An instrument embodying the invention comprises a sound reproducer. such as a telephone receiver or loud-speaker, connected to an oscillating system adapted to be controlled or affected by an object or objects, such as the hands or fingers of an operator held in relative position in proximity to an element of the system. For example, an electrical oscillating system including oscillator tubes of the electro-ionic type may be employed, and the circuits of the system may be so correlated that the frequency or frequencies of the electrical oscillations will vary in accordance with the variations in the electrical capacity or other characteristic of the controlling circuit caused by the movements of external objects, such as an operators hand or fingers as above stated. The operator’s hands, or the objects moved by him are not required to make physical contact with the instrument, but if the instrument is arranged to permit such contact, the generation or production and control of the sound is not effected directly thereby as is the case with the ordinary musical instruments.

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