Sunday, March 6, 2011Who Invented The Telephone?
Ah, Bell. The man behind the telephone and a good guy all around. Bell spent a whole lot of time working with deaf people.
His wife was deaf, his mother was deaf and he was even Helen Keller's favorite teacher. With this time-consuming near-obsession with deaf people, it's amazing that Bell found time to invent the telephone. Wait, not "amazing." "Impossible." That's the one.
Who Actually Invented It?
In 1860, an Italian named Antonio Meucci first demonstrated his working telephone, (though he called it the "teletrofono," mostly because Italians are wacky). Eleven years later, (still five years before Bell's phone came out), he filed a temporary patent on his invention. In 1874, Meucci failed to send in the $10 necessary to renew his patent, because he was sick and poor and Italian.
Two years after that, Bell registered his telephone patent. Meucci attempted to sue, of course, by retrieving the original sketches and plans he sent to a lab at Western Union, but these records, quite amazingly, disappeared. Where was Bell working at this time? Why, the very same Western Union lab where Meucci swore he sent his original sketches. Eventually, Meucci died penniless and faded away into obscurity.
Did Bell, given his convenient position at Western Union, destroy Meucci's records and claim the telephone as his own invention? It's difficult to say. One source says "Yes, definitely," while others just say "probably." It makes sense, if you look at the facts: Bell already had a number of important inventions under his belt; it isn't unreasonable to assume he just got greedy and didn't want to see anyone else succeed. Further, why would Bell even need a phone? Both his wife and mother were deaf. Who the hell was he gonna call?