IBM founder Thomas J. Watson had a long-standing personal interest in solving problems associated with the use of multiple languages in international meetings, and he put his company's resources to work on developing a solution. The ultimate result was the IBM Wireless Translation System (sometimes referred to as the Simultaneous Interpretation System).
The IBM Wireless Translation System broadcast over seven radio channels the simultaneous translations of a speaker's remarks into as many as seven languages. The speaker's words were first carried to headphones of interpreters who worked at microphones in booths at the sides of the meeting room. As each interpreter heard the speech, he or she translated the remarks into a second language. All the translations were conveyed through the air to individual lightweight radio sets equipped with earphones and dials with which to control volume and select the language required.
As each receiver's aerial was permanently embedded in the neck strap, listeners were able to move about freely in the meeting room while listening to the translation in their own language.
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