Johann Schleyer was a German Roman Catholic priest whose irrational passion for umlauts may have been his undoing. During one sleepless night in 1879, he felt a Divine presence telling him to create a universal language. The result was Volapük.
In 1889, there were an estimated 283 clubs, 25 periodicals in or about Volapük, and 316 textbooks in 25 languages; at that time the language claimed nearly a million adherents. Volapük was largely displaced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, specifically by Esperanto, Ido, and Interlingua.