It was most likely first introduced in the literature by Franz Bardon in his autobiography Frabato. He claimed the Freemasonic Order of the Golden Centurium (FOGC), a “black magic” occult order in Germany (which actually had no connection to Craft Masonry) that was active from the mid-1800s until the Nazis came to power in the 1930s, tried to murder him with magic because he refused to join their lodge. (Bardon, in fact, was briefly imprisoned by the Nazis for refusing to collaborate with their occult research.)
“One of the secrets of the F.O.G.C. Lodge members lay in their ability to put anyone to sleep, wake him up, make him sick or healthy, and invigorate or kill him whenever they liked. The leading members of the lodge, however, had only acquired this knowledge by entering into a pact with a prince of demons. With their magical methods, they were able to influence any untrained person, who had no way of discovering the source of the influences at work upon him.”
How were these powerful wizards able to accomplish this? By means of “the piece of apparatus they called the Tepaphone.”
“It was the lodge’s most strictly guarded secret: a magical vibratory instrument which could emit fatal vibrations across any distance and constituted the deadliest weapon in the arsenal of the lodge. If the picture or mumia of any human being or animal were placed at the focal point of the tepaphone’s vibrations, both the astral and physical bodies of that entity would be affected. Substances of any kind could be destroyed by this instrument from any distance. Furthermore, it served as a wireless transmitter of energy – something modern science could only dream about. Any kind of thought could be transmitted by the tepaphone as well. Finally, the device made it possible to cause nervous diseases and poisonings which puzzled the medical establishment. Typically, a picture or personal object was sufficient to establish contact with the intended victim – and remember, distance was of no consequence. “
Bardon (aka ‘Frabato”) was, of course, able to survive the attack because he was such a mighty wizard himself, and he was protected by “the Brothers of Light” – or so the story goes.
The Tepaphone is described as a framework holding multiple optic lenses mounted in front of a light source, and a separate section consisting of a flat holder surrounded by copper wire coils with a copper plate in the center, on which the light was projected. From this simple description, and knowing what kind of technology was available at that time, the Tepaphone was probably a modified “magic lantern“, an early kind of slide projector that was used extensively by Masonic lodges in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first versions had either a built-in oil or alcohol lamp with wick, or separate lamp was placed inside the box to provide a light source. Later versions used electric lamps, and eventually evolved into the optical slide projectors of the late 20th century.