Scott's Scanning Radio—c.1953
One of the earliest Scott nonmusical devices was this scanning radio that was years ahead of its time—this was frequently the case for Scott's inventions. He filed a patent disclosure for it in 1953. This photo is from a 1959 Popular Mechanics magazine article about Scott.
Popular Mechanics Scanning Radio StoryThe Raymond Scott Archives
The Videola—c. 1958
Raymond Scott at the Videola, a system he constructed to compose for films and TV while remotely controlling the film running in an adjacent room on a Moviola, the noisy film editing machine used at the time. He focused a TV camera on the tiny ground glass screen and wired the machine for full remote control. A tape recorder was integrated with the Videola so Scott could immediately listen to his work in sync with the film, and revise. While not an invention, the Videola was an inventive and elegant way of conveniently viewing a film image without the distraction of the clattering machine.
Bandito the Bongo Artist
Below are some pages from the patent disclosure for "Bandito the Bongo Artist," which was an instrument that Scott described as "A device that automatically creates and performs bongo-like drum improvisations, an infinite variety of pitches, rhythms and colors..." Patent disclosures are used by people involved in preparing a possible patent application. They stipulate a set of claims regarding the invention that reveal the unique nature of the product. They don't necessarily result in a patent, as is the case here. Other Scott disclosures are shown later in this story.
Scot invented Bandito in 1963, but as noted in the documents, he didn't file the disclosure until 1968.
ELECTRONIC AUDIBLE SIGNALING DEVICES—PATENT
In 1968 Scott applied for and was later granted patent #3,587,094 for a design for doorbell type devices, but the concepts carried over to other applications, including the Electronium.
The abstract read: "Electronic audible signal devices such as doorbells, buzzers, beepers, telephone bells, school bells, bicycle bells, sirens, signaling bells in general and signalling devices in general are provided by novel combinations of random voltage generators, voltage controlled tone generators, pulsers, triggers, pulse shapers, keyers, audio generators, delay devices, amplifiers and loudspeakers."
Selected Pages From the Patent
The Fascination Machine
The Fascination Machine was a further evolution of the Electronic Audible Signal Devices algorithm, with Bandito along for the ride. It was like a micro-Electronium. Conceived as an instrument for home use, it was capable of random audio pattern generation and had five different modes that included music and environmental sound effects. While Scott never built a prototype, a modern version was built for the 2018 Scottworks Festival by Rebel Technology, the London-based collective, (more on Scottworks, including a video of the Fascination Machine in the next story). Below is a promotional brochure Scott wrote for the device.
The Fax Machine—c. 1968, US Patent #3684889 for “Optical System for Facsimile Scanners”
Legend has it that an acquaintance approached Raymond Scott wondering if Scott could design an improved fax machine. The existing ones were still quite crude. Scott, like most engineers, was confident he could take on any technical challenge, and did in fact design and patent an improved lens and lighting mechanism for optical scanning, an essential component of any fax machine. In 1982, Xerox referenced his patent in the development of their fax machine that became the de facto standard—see Scott's patent images below.
And There's More...
Raymond Scott created many more inventions, some planned, and some realized. Too many for the scope of this story, but here are a few more.
Left to right: Another 1946 patent disclosure, this one for a Talking Alarm Clock, a device that woke users up with a recording of their choice; the Musical Measure Readout System, a 1973 Scott invention intended to automate finding a return to the right measure for orchestral recording for film scores; the first page of the patent disclosure for Spin-A-Tune—a child's electronic top-like toy that would also generate random musical notes.
The Raymond Scott Archives channel — created & curated by Stan Warnow, Deborah Scott Studebaker, and Jeff Winner.
Header collage for this story by Scott Skerchock.
Additional content from Corey Goldberg, Irwin Chusid, and Henry Studebaker.