The History of the Telephone

If you were asked who the inventor of the telephone was, you would probably be able to answer with “Alexander Graham Bell”. Did you know there is some controversy about the answer we were all taught in school? There was a race between two inventors, and the telephone was in development even before that race began.

Who Really Invented the Telephone?

There were three people that the telephone could be attributed to, each of them playing an important role in the invention. Those three inventors were:

Antonio Meucci
Antonio Meucci began developing the talking telegraph clear back in 1849. In 1871, he filed a caveat, or announcement of an invention. He was unable to renew that caveat when it expired, allowing other inventors to get their foot in the door for taking credit. In 2002, a resolution was passed to honor Meucci’s contributions to the invention of the telephone.

Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell
Elisha Gray was the inventor that was in a race against time to get the telephone patented. On the same day that Alexander Graham Bell applied for a caveat, so did Elisha. Bell won the race, arriving at the patent office before Gray, on February 14, 1876. Bell was the fifth entry, and Gray was 39th. While Bell did not have a caveat, the patent office awarded the patent for the telephone to Bell, which has made it into the history books.

What Was the First Conversation on the Telephone?

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell wrote in his notebook about his experience speaking through the telephone. He spoke to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the adjacent room. The first words sent and received through the telephone were, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”

While countless conversations have taken place through telephones since its invention, it is fun to remember where the telephone got its start. From its humble beginnings, the phone has certainly come a long way.