This post was first published on March 12th, 2014.
Have you ever imagined a world without communication? I am sure that the thought itself is horrible. Over the years, communication technologies have evolved to such an extent as to make the whole world shrink to the size of a portable communication device. Having said that, I think this is the right time to pay tribute to a legend who laid the foundation to the communication era: Alexander Graham Bell – the famous inventor who fetched the first telephone patent.
Bell was born on the 3rd of March, 1847. Young Bell exhibited skills early in his childhood, at the age of 12. He built a homemade device that combined rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes, which was actually a dehusking machine. Later, Bell started experimenting with sound and recreated a life-like head that could actually speak a few words. Further experiments on sound, in the year 1875, led him to one of the most valuable inventions of all time: the Telephone.
In 1874, while experimenting on harmonic telegraph, Bell felt that sound waves may be converted to corresponding electrical currents, which in turn can be converted back to sound using multiple metal reeds tuned to different frequencies. This made him think that sound waves could be sent via telegraph, which was one of the most renowned technologies at the time. However, to materialize the idea, Bell needed more knowledge and by a rare chance, he met Thomas A. Watson, an experienced electrical designer, who later became Bell’s assistant. Further research resulted in Bell inventing the first telephone. Bell’s notebook entry reveals that the first voice conveyed over the phone was “Mr. Watson, come here… I want to see you” while talking to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson. Soon after inventing the telephone, Bell filed a patent application with the US Patent Office and was awarded the patent on the 7th of March, 1876.
There were some controversies associated with Bell’s telephone patent. A famous inventor of that era, Elisha Gray had invented a similar device and even filed a patent application the same day Bell did. However, Bell emerged victorious as Patent Office granted his patent. Later, in a letter dated the 2nd of March, 1877, Bell admitted to Gray that he was aware of Gray’s invention, and in the year 1879, Bell testified under oath that he discussed Gray’s invention with Patent Examiner, Zenas Fisk Wilber, in a general way. There are, in fact, many rumors and theories surrounding this controversy. However, most of them seem to be built on shadowy facts.
Whatever the truth is, however, over the years, no one may even remember these controversies. But as long as the human race exists, as long as communication exists, this great invention will be remembered and praised for being the foundation of communication technologies that make our lives as easy as they are now.
Image Source/Attribution here (This image is in the public domain)