Innocenzo Manzetti

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Innocenzo Manzetti Innocenzo-Manzetti.jpg
Innocenzo Manzetti

Innocenzo Vincenzo Bartolomeo Luigi Carlo Manzetti [1] (Italian pronunciation:  [innoˈtʃɛntso manˈdzetti] ; 17 March 1826 15 March 1877) was an Italian inventor born in Aosta. Following his primary school studies he went to the Jesuit-run Saint Bénin Boarding School and then on to Turin where he was awarded a diploma in land surveying before returning to Aosta.

Italians nation and ethnic group native to Italy

The Italians are a Romance ethnic group and nation native to the Italian peninsula and its neighbouring territories. Most Italians share a common culture, history, ancestry or language. Legally, all Italian nationals are citizens of the Italian Republic, regardless of ancestry or nation of residence and may be distinguished from people of Italian descent without Italian citizenship and from ethnic Italians living in territories adjacent to the Italian Peninsula without Italian citizenship. The majority of Italian nationals are speakers of Italian, or a regional variety thereof. However, many of them also speak another regional or minority language native to Italy; although there is disagreement on the total number, according to UNESCO there are approximately 30 languages native to Italy.

An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means that becomes known as an invention. The word inventor comes from the Latin verb invenire, invent-, to find. The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. Although inventing is closely associated with science and engineering, inventors are not necessarily engineers nor scientists.

Aosta Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta is the principal city of Aosta Valley, a bilingual region in the Italian Alps, 110 km (68 mi) north-northwest of Turin. It is situated near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at the confluence of the Buthier and the Dora Baltea, and at the junction of the Great and Little St. Bernard routes.




The flute-player (1840) Automa Manzetti 1840.JPG
The flute-player (1840)

In 1840 he constructed a flute-playing automaton, in the shape of a man, life-size, seated on a chair. Hidden inside the chair were levers, connecting rods and compressed air tubes, which made the automaton's lips and fingers move on the flute according to a program recorded on a cylinder similar to those used in player pianos. The automaton was powered by clockwork and could perform 12 different arias. As part of the performance it would rise from the chair, bow its head, and roll its eyes.

Flute musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

Automaton a self-operating machine

An automaton is a self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power.

Compressed air is air kept under a pressure that is greater than atmospheric pressure. Compressed air is an important medium for transfer of energy in industrial processes. Compressed air is used for power tools such as air hammers, drills, wrenches and others. Compressed air is used to atomize paint, to operate air cylinders for automation, and can also be used to propel vehicles. Brakes applied by compressed air made large railway trains safer and more efficient to operate. Compressed air brakes are also found on large highway vehicles.

Later he managed to get his automaton to play any piece performed by a musician on an organ by muting the organ's keys and connecting them to the automaton's fingers. A complex automaton was described in the same 1865 news article that described Manzetti's telephone. [2] He also built, as a toy for his daughter, a wooden flying parrot which would beat its wings then, reportedly, rise into the air and hover for two or three minutes before settling on a shelf.


In 1855 Manzetti invented a hydraulic machine to empty water from the wells of the Ollomont Mines, which were previously unworkable.

Ollomont Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Ollomont is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-west Italy.

Steam car

In 1864 he built a steam-powered car, some 27 years before that built in Paris by Léon Serpollet. He also built the first Zamboni from that technology [3]

Steam car an automobile powered by a steam engine

A steam car is a car (automobile) propelled by a steam engine. A steam engine is an external combustion engine (ECE) in which the fuel is combusted outside of the engine, unlike an internal combustion engine (ICE) in which fuel is combusted inside the engine. ECEs have a lower thermal efficiency, but carbon monoxide production is more readily regulated.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Léon Serpollet French businessman and automobile pioneer

Léon Serpollet was a French industrialist and pioneer of steam automobiles, under the Gardner-Serpollet brand. He also designed steam trams.

Speaking telegraph (telephone)

In 1843 Manzetti first mooted the idea of a "speaking telegraph", or telephone, but didn't pursue the idea at the time. In 1864, to give his automaton the power of speech, Manzetti is reported to have invented his speaking telegraph –some reports state that he didn't actually get it working until the following year.[ citation needed ] Although he did not patent his device it was reported in Paris, [2] and likely in the press around the world.

Telephone telecommunications device

A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user.

On 22 November 1865 a description of a telephone device attributed to Manzetti appeared in the Parisian newspaper, Le Petit Journal, extracted from a similar article in the Sardinia Courier ("Il Corriere di Sardegna"). [2] The article very briefly wrote of an electrical telephone that could reproduce music and loudly spoken vowels with good quality, but could only produce softly spoken speech confusingly. [2] The article's author wrote:

"Manzetti transmits directly the word by means of the ordinary telegraphic wire, with an apparatus simpler than the one which is now used for dispatches. Now, two merchants will be able to discuss their business instantly from London to Calcutta, announce each other speculations, propose them, conclude them. Many experiments have been made already. They were successful enough to establish the practical possibility of this discovery. Music can already be perfectly transmitted; as for the words, the sonorous ones are heard distinctly."

Earlier, on 22 August 1865, La Feuille d'Aoste had reported: [4]

"It was also rumoured that English technicians to whom Manzetti illustrated his method for transmitting spoken words on the telegraph wire intended to apply the invention on several private telegraph lines in England."

Suggestions of the alleged intellectual property theft appear unsubstantiated, as there were no historical records of English technicians or companies implementing 'speaking telegraphs' in the U.K., or elsewhere, in that time period. The United Kingdom did not see its first telephone demonstrations until A.G. Bell demonstrated one of his early devices to Queen Victoria and others in 1877. Well documented sources record that Bell first conceptualized and invented electrical telephony in Canada in July 1874, [5] and did not actually build a working model until March 1876, thus mooting the suggestion of the invention's theft from Manzetti by Bell or others although contacts between Bell and Meucci prior to Bell's patent filings are confirmed.

Miscellaneous inventions

Other machines invented by Manzetti included:


Manzetti married Rosa Sofia Anzola in 1864. His first daughter, Maria Sofia, died in 1867 at the age of two. Manzetti himself died in Aosta on his 51st birthday, poor and largely unrecognized, one year after the death of his second and last daughter, Marina Fortunata.

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  1. Due to the fact that French was the only official and spoken language at that time, Manzetti's given names are often reported in French: Innocent Vincent Barthélemy Louis Charles (see link).
  2. 1 2 3 4 Quétànd, Èmile (translator). Curiosity of Science, Le Petit Journal, November 22, 1865, No.1026, p.3 (bottom). Extracted from: "Of The Transmission Of Sound And Speech By Telegraph", "Il Corriere di Sardegna" (The Sardinia Courier), date unknown. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from: National Library of France Gallica Digital Archives, this webpage, this document permalink ; this Pg.3 permalink ; this image download FTP [ permanent dead link ].
  3. Ice resurfacer
  4. Innocenzo Manzetti: Curiosities Of Science, ChezBasilio website. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  5. Bruce 1990, pg.122