The Times (London), May 29, 1891, page 5:
I went last evening to the central office of the new company which is interested in the instrument known as the theatrophone. As the name indicates, this instrument is intended to transmit, by means of a clever adaptation and application of the ordinary telephone, everything audible which goes on upon the stage of the various Paris theatres. The Théàtre Français, the Opéra Comique, the Bouffes, the Nouveautés, and some others have already consented to admit the theatrophone, and before long the Grand Opera, Gymnase, Vandeville, Folies Dramatiques, and, indeed, almost all the theatres will form part of the theatrophonic network, it will thus be possible during the evening to hear and give one's friends the pleasure of hearing all the comedies and operas produced on the Paris stage.
Some people at first imagined that this invention would injure the attendance at the theatres, and that those who could listen to a piece at home would not take the trouble to visit the theatre. Experience has proved quite the contrary, and during the short existence of the theatrophone the theatres which are in this way attached to the instrument have been rather benefited than hurt. Moreover, all who have used a theatrophone will affirm that after having heard a piece they are beset with a desire to see it as well, and that they then understand all the better what they have previously listened to attentively without being distracted by the complicating impressions of the eye. Many foreigners unfamiliar with the French language now take the precaution of hearing first through the theatrophone the piece they wish to see, and then when they go to the theatre they understand all the better the whole of the dialogue. Owing to such facts as those the theatrophone is daily becoming more and more successful. It is already a feature of the clubs and the large hotels and cafés, and has been fitted up in many private houses.
The installation is arranged in two ways. In private houses communication with the theatre is uninterrupted, but in the hotels, restàurants, or cafés communication is dependent upon the insertion into the instrument usually of either a 50-centimes piece or a franc, on the "penny in the slot" plan, whereupon the instrument transmits the sound for a limited time, the tube communicating the auditory impulse being attached to a small square box the size of a bird cage. The coin dropped into the box falls upon a plate and opens a valve, by which communication is established; this remains open for five or ten minutes according to the denomination of the coin. When this period has elapsed the coin falls into a receptacle, the plate rises, and communication is cut off. Thus, by means of one or more coins, two, three, or four persons can hear for five or ten minutes a passage in prose or music out of whatever theatre they choose, or even the whole play. The delight to be got out of such an instrument during a long winter evening of snow or rain is obvious. People confined indoors, or those who wish to be amused without going out, have here a never-failing resource.
But the instrument is only in its beginning. Its applications will be more and more numerous, complicated, and astonishing. There is already an idea of placing it in the tribune of the Chamber and even before the seats of the Deputies, whose speeches and cries may thus be transmitted to a distance, so that henceforward not only those persons detained or keeping at home will be afforded these astonishing opportunities, but even those not allowed admission to a Parliamentary sitting, or unable to be present, will be able to listen to debates by their own firesides. Moreover, another curious application is on the point of being tried, it is intended to have a spoken daily paper late at night, which will carry to the clubs, hotels, and newspaper offices all the latest news at home and abroad. This will appear, if I may so say, between 1 and 2 in the morning, and will be a summary of the previous 24 hours. In a word, the theatrophone opens an entirely new field in electric communication.--Our Own Correspondent.