Trevor’s scholarly translation (with footnotes disguised as sidenotes) of a chapter in Pío Barojas novel The adventures, inventions and mystifications of Silvester Paradox / Aventuras, inventos y mixtificaciones de Silvestre Paradox (1901) introduces an English conman called Mr Macbeth:
bq. Still not satisfied, Macbeth, drunk and impassive as ever, explained to the public an apparatus of his invention, the optical and acoustic translatoscope. The translatoscope was a simple apparatushow simple!based on the learned and little-known principle of Dr Philf, by which words, spoken or written, expand as they advance to the tropics and contract as they recede. Hence, the construction of a translatoscope requires nothing more than the combination of a system of convergent mechanisms that pass gradually to flat menisci and then to divergent menisci and place them in a tube. The menisci may be optical or acoustic, as is wished.
If one talks through one end of the tube in English, the words will issue from the tubes other extremity in Spanish. The same occurs when one looks through the tube, since the translatoscope translates everything. The secret lies in nothing more than the calibration of the screws.
They are still trying to make this kind of thing work today.