Talk:Léon Theremin

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Did Theremin therefore invent RFID ? Shyamal 08:32, 26 May 2004 (UTC)

Quote from the RFID article: "Although some people think that the first known device may have been invented by Leon Theremin as an espionage tool for the Russian Government in 1945, the first real usage of RFID devices predates that." I guess he didn't. Jonathan Grynspan 23:13, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Did he spend a good deal of time in France, or is there another reason his name was transliterated in a French way? (Rather than, say 'Leo Termen') Xyzzyva 16:11, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I can only guess but Albert Glinsky's biography (pages 9-10) traces his ancestors to the Albigenses sect in southern France, and a group that escaped the Inquisition were named Théremin (acute accent). From the sixteenth century they spread to several countries, one branch settling in Saint Petersburg. Leon himself also had relatives in France. He, or his attorneys, did spell it Leo (and Thèremin with a grave accent) when registering the 1928 US patent. Oddmusic claims his westernised name is "Leon Theremin" (no accents). What puzzles me is why wikipedia spells it "Léon" as only the French spell it that way as far as I can see. -Wikianon (talk) 06:49, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Lavinia Williams—request for source[edit]

Guys, I recently created an article for Lavinia Williams, please see my note at Talk:Lavinia Williams. Does someone have an authoritative source confirming that she and Theremin were married before he was abducted by the KGB? A cursory internet search revealed the following:

  • Pages devoted specifically to Lavinia Williams make no mention of Theremin.
  • Pages about Theremin frequently mention that he was married to an African-American dancer before his abduction.
    • Many of these pages give the dancer's name as Iavana Williams, but these all appear to have plagiarized from one another.
    • Several pages copy the Wikipedia article along with its assertion that her name was "Lavinia Williams".
    • Several pages tell the story and use the name "Lavinia Williams" and are not direct copies of Wikipedia. However, they mention her just for the purpose of telling the star-crossed love story, and I am concerned about the innate propensity for this story to propagate itself as an urban legend, given the remarkable circumstances involved (two people each very prominent in a different field, a marriage socially frowned upon, the KGB putting a stop to it!, both of them living for half a century after that but apparently never communicating).
    • A web search for "Iavana Williams" returns only pages that mention her only because she married Theremin, only in pages that basically are copies of one another. I'm thinking it got mistranscribed somewhere and then plagiarized around.

If someone can get the real story, from a source that is not just the internet, then please contribute the story and reference to both the Theremin and Williams pages. I'd really like to know what actually happened. Thanks!

By the way, I actually never heard of Lavinia Williams until I read the Theremin article; it sparked my interest and now I've started an article on her (and she deserves one independently of this Theremin business). So: writers of this article, nice work!

EsdnePyaJ 14:59, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure the 1994 documentary says they got married (I saw it last night). You should watch it if you haven't yet. --Cam 15:45, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Also in this 1989 interview he says they got married at the Soviet Consulate, though his memory is faulty on other matters so who knows. --Cam 16:57, 2 November 2006 (UTC)


Here in this talk area we talk about his abduction. In the movie documentary, his wife's best friend says that Lavinia told her that he was abducted, and did not leave of his own volition. So, this means that either the people who say he left due to financial reasons are lying, or he staged his own abduction in front of his wife, which I find peculiar and absurd, given the zero evidence presented for the "running away" theory and the direct documentary evidence in the film documentary.

I think some clarification in this regard is in order, and that the article should have a more evenly weighted description.

Hwarwick 21:22 17 August 2007 (UTC)

The information regarding Theremin's return to the Soviet Union is contained in the book, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage, which is cited in the article. The information in the movie interviews is hearsay, and is refuted in the book, which is scrupulously researched.THD3 19:52, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Rehabilitation (Soviet)[edit]

I deleted the line which read "The Soviet Union rehabilitated him in 1956." Rehabilitated from what, pray tell? His wicked Capitalist ways? Begone, POV! Loundry (talk) 15:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

reinstated as per Rehabilitation (Soviet) (section topic here renamed) Artlondon (talk) 17:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Albert Glinsky book cites[edit]

I have added a few cites to passages from a preview of Albert Glinsky's book, but here is stuff I didn't include:

  • November 1925 Lev gave his address as 50 Marat Street, Leningrad
  • Lev's aunts were Elena Emiliviena Termen and Olga Emiliviena Termen
  • Elena sang and Olga played piano at Lev's lecture concert at the Leningrad Philharmonic Society 1927-04-10
  • at that lecture Lev demonstrated music and color with an "illumovox", no details
  • Early 1927 the Council of Labour and Defence (CTO) directed Lev design a distance vision unit for border patrol
  • 1927 June a secret version of Lev's television was ready for the Kremlin, - the preview frustratingly ends here
  • Page 261: Lev worked on a zsystem to record voices inside a room by beaming low power infrared at a window and extracting the sounds from the disturbed reflection, and Lavrentiy Beria used it to monitor discussions inside American, British and French embassies in Moscow
  • From the notes, chapter 7, pages 167 to 176 covers Lavinia Williams and the American Negro Ballet

-Wikianon (talk) 22:47, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

More sources[edit]

While looking for verifying sources not from the movie, I came across these possibly useful links, but I did not use them for lack of time:

-Wikianon (talk) 22:47, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Henry Theremin?[edit]

I read in a history text and heard from an artist that the inventor of the theremin was named Henry Theremin. Is there any reason for this confusion? Was there another individual named Henry Theremin? Or were these two "resources" just foolishly mistaken...?Twitterpated. (talk) 18:31, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Karl Baumgart not Karl Karlowitsch Baumgart[edit]

Karlowitsch is a name extension introduced during an enforced 'russification' period that began in the late 19th century. The traditional Russian name extension was also forced upon (Baltic) Germans and other ethnic groups of the Russian Empire during that period. Karlowitsch indicates that the first name of Karl Baumgart's father had been Karl. Since this name extension was forced upon non-russian people, I would rather use Baumgart's real name, which is Karl Baumgart, without any extension. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:17, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Theremin and television - nothing more than unproven allegations[edit]

"The concept of breaking a single video frame into interlaced 'fields' was first demonstrated by Russian inventor Léon Theremin in 1927" (Albert Glinsky: Theramin, University of Illinois Press, 2000)

First of all, I do not doubt that Theremin invented his electronic instrument "Theramin" and other things in the 1920s. These are proven facts.

But with all respect, I very much doubt this whole Theremin / television inventor / interlaced inventor stuff. This sounds like one of those classic Russian/Soviet falsifications to me.

The whole story is just based on a single source, which is the book mentioned above - published in 2000. The other source would be Theremin's own few lines about this topic in the book "A.F. Joffe - Memories [my own translation], Academy of Sciences Press [again my own translation], Moscow, 1973", offering a phantastic story how he invented television devices with a few lines up to 62 and even 120 lines (incorporating interlaced 'lines' technique) within 2 or 3 (!) years (from 1924 or 1925 to 1927) as part of his academic thesis! Moreover, he was travelling a lot during that period to present his 'Theramin', to negotiate lincence issues for his 'Theramin', etc. His alleged development of television of course had to be temporary halted during his extensive travels in 1925/26. He also claims to have invented in 1927 a portable(!) camera or whole television system with 100 lines, which could operate outdoor and under daylight conditions! (Meaning without any additional light source - in 1927!!!)

Should these claims be true, Theremin would have been ways ahead of all other television pioneers. I think - and 'early television buffs' would agree - about one decade ahead wouldn't be exaggerated in this case. The story of early television would have to be rewritten.

The stupid thing, now, about all of these phantastic 'achievements' regarding television devices is that there is not a single proof for not even one of these claims. No photos, no patent files, no drawings, no working schemes, no technical descriptions, nothing detailed and nothing general, no presentations (he travelled a lot and had his own laboratory in the US during the early 1930s), no contemporary articles. Absolutely nothing. Zero.

However, Theremin himself claims that there had been an article in the magazine Ogonyok [my own translation] in the 1920s. But even if that would be true, it wouldn't change anything about the non-existing proofs: Theremin maybe indeed has written a (theoretic) thesis about television and maybe did some research. But if one remembers the tons of propaganda, which had been put out especially by the early Soviet Union, to show how 'progressive' and 'modern' the largely backwards country was, it is not unlikely that Ogonyok somehow 'sexed up' its article a little bit.

There is some literature about Theremin from (communist) East Germany, a soviet puppet state, which glorified everything Soviet/Russian. Theremin had been a big celebrity in East Germany due to his various achievements. But in none of this literature, if at all, I could discover anything new about his alleged achievements in the field of television. It's always the same few statements, which I tried to give above in my own words.

So I have good reason to assume that this whole 'Theremin-television story' is nothing more than a huge fake!

I can only hope that it's only Russian chauvinists that spread such allegations via the 'University of Illinois Press' and all over corresponding Wikipedia articles.

I for my part will erase those non-proven statements about Theremin and television.

Greets. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

It's not a question of what's proven, it's a question of what's sourced. The University of Illinois Press in general and Glinsky's book in particular are considered adequate sourcing. If you think the information is wrong, find a countersource. I am reinstating the material.THD3 (talk) 20:39, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Espionage for USSR while living in the USA?[edit]

A 2002 TV-show airing on Investigation Discovery Channel tonight (pre-dawn hours Thu 29 Apr 2010) claims that included in the great volume of espionage data that reached the West after the demise of the USSR was, eventually, the information that while in the USA Theremin was relaying information from the U.S. Patent Office to the Soviet Union. This information was stated to have been revealed by a former KGB officer who will not publicly reveal his identity, at a point later in time than both the release of the documentary movie and the death of Theremin. There are problems with the story: if Theremin were copying from the in-house archives of Patents as any person could do, is this really "espionage" or is it merely "research" employing a person on the ground to overcome the disadvantages of research-via-correspondence? If Theremin were pretending to "file" patents as the story stated then how surreptitious could his copying of other patents have been? Why would he live in New York instead of Washington, D.C.? According to this tale Theremin's return to the Soviet Union was because many overseas "spies" were being recalled and purged at that time. Can someone with knowledge examine this, confirm, or refute, describing exactly what Theremin was doing in language more specific than that of the TV-show? (talk) 08:56, 29 April 2010 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

Color television?[edit]

I seem to recall hearing or reading that his 1920s television invention was already in color? (And that Lenin disapproved of the whole TV concept, and therefore it was canceled) Is that sourced somewhere? -- megA (talk) 12:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Brian Wilson?[edit]

What is the link between Brian Wilson and Léon Theremin? This should be made apparent in the article. --tslocum (talk | contribs) 23:45, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Brian Wilson's only connection is that he hired another musician to play a type of "Electro-Theremin" on a few records. Therefore the link is highly tenuous at best and should be deleted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:100F:B022:6EB:2C0B:792E:D13C:80C2 (talk) 22:36, 29 June 2016 (UTC)


"Petrograd (renamed from Saint Petersburg)".....................?? (this article as of July 12 2015)
 Purely for information: (notnot original research)-

Petrograd was renamed Leningrad amid or just after the Russian revolution. Look it up.Dates etc.

This major Russian city's name reverted, from Leningrad to Petrograd, when the Soviet Union aka USSR Union of Soviet Socialist States fell apart some, 70 years later, in the early 1990s. Look it up.
Fatuous, ignorant, gormless remarks like 'Petrograd (renamed from Saint Petersburg)' have no space in a serious article. These are just anglicised versions of the Russian script. Look it up. 

- Think before you post. Regards. Some competent editor, not a noddy, plse fix this. Thanks.

Very interesting article nonetheless. (talk) 15:57, 12 July 2015 (UTC)