Physicist and Inventor. Born in Barnwood, Gloucester, the son of a shoemaker, as a youth, he taught himself to read and write French, German, Italian, Latin, and Greek. In 1806 the family moved to London, where the senior Wheatstone made and taught musical instruments, among his clientèle was the Princess Charlotte. Charles was himself apprenticed as a maker of instruments. He became fascinated by the properties of sound and its transmission and pursue his interest, publishing his first paper on acoustic experiments around 1823. His experiments led to both musical performances and the invention of a 'symphonion with bellows' or an 'improved accordion' in 1829. He re-christened it the concertina in 1833. In 1844, he received a patent for 'an Improved Concertina.' It was largely due to his acoustical experiments that hew was invited by King's College in London to lecture in experimental physics in 1834. He and a collaborator, William Fothergill Cooke, patented the electric telegraph in June 1837. His interests spread to electricity and optics, and he was instrumental in the development of the Wheatstone Bridge, a circuit used for measuring electrical resistance, an invention of mathematician Samuel Christie. In 1840, the Royal Society awarded him the Royal Medal for his paper on binocular vision, proceeding from his invention of the earliest stereoscope two years previously. That year he also introduced his chronoscope, an instrument for measuring minute intervals of time. His 'polar clock,' was introduced in 1848, which gave the hour of day when the eyepiece was directed to parallel to the Earth's axis, and the prism of the eyepiece turned until no color was seen; it formed part of the equipment of the 1875–1876 Polar Expedition by Captain George Nares. Painfully shy, he was regarded an excellent tutor, but he avoided being before an audience, by 1860 after 26 years at King's, he was said to have spent 25 of those on research and given no lectures. He made notable contributions to the measurement of the velocity of electricity and of light and the development of ciphers, himself the inventor of the Playfair cypher. He was a member of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and he was knighted in 1868. On a working trip to Paris, he contracted bronchitis and died at age 73.
Bio by: Iola