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Antonio Meucci. The Invention of the Telephone. The Real Inventor of the Telephone: Bell or Meucci?. Although it was Alexander Graham Bell who was credited to be the inventor of the telephone, it was the ideas and plans of Antonio Meucci which lead to the development of Bell’s famous invention.

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antonio meucci

Antonio Meucci

The Invention of the Telephone

the real inventor of the telephone bell or meucci
The Real Inventor of the Telephone: Bell or Meucci?
  • Although it was Alexander Graham Bell who was credited to be the inventor of the telephone, it was the ideas and plans of Antonio Meucci which lead to the development of Bell’s famous invention.
  • On June 11th, 2002, the US Congress finally officially recognized that the Italian inventor Antonio Meucci is to be credited for the invention of the telephone.
life around the telephone
Life around the Telephone
  • Antonio Meucci was born in Florence, Italy in April 1808
  • He was initially obsessed with medical uses of electricity, and soon realized that one could transmit voice via wire. Meucci developed a method of using electric shocks to treat illness (electro therapy), which had become quite popular in Havana.  One day, while preparing to administer a treatment to a friend, Meucci heard an exclamation of the friend, who was in the next room, over the piece of copper wire running between them.  Between 1850 and 1862 he developed at least 30 different models of telephone, although he was too poor to protect his inventions with a patent (this would have costed him $250).
  • Later a dramatic event happened, in which Meucci was severely burned in the explosion of the steamship Westfield returning from New York. This brought things to an even more tragic state.  While Meucci lay in hospital, miraculously alive after the disaster, his wife sold many of his working models (including the telephone prototype) and other materials to a secondhand dealer for six dollars.  When Meucci sought to buy these precious objects back, he was told that they had been resold to an "unknown young man" whose identity remained a mystery. 
life around the telephone4
Life around the Telephone
  • Crushed, but not beaten, Meucci worked night and day to reconstruct his invention and to produce new designs and specifications, clearly apprehensive that someone could steal the device before he could have it patented.  Unable to raise the sum for a definitive patent, he took recourse in a caveat or notice of intent, which was registered on December 28, 1871 and renewed in 1872 and 1873 but, fatefully, not thereafter.
  • In 1876 Alexander Bell then made a patent which made him the inventor of the Telephone.
  • In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent which did not really describe the telephone but refers to it as such.  When Meucci learned of this, he instructed his lawyer to protest to the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, something that was never done. 
  • However, a friend did contact Washington, only to learn that all the documents relevant to the "Talking Telegraph" filed in Meucci's caveat had been "lost."
  • Later investigation produced evidence of illegal relationships linking certain employees of the Patent Office and officials of Bell's company.  And later, in the course of litigation between Bell and Western Union, it was revealed that Bell had agreed to pay Western Union 20 percent of profits from commercialization of his "invention" for a period of 17 years. 
  • There is still a lot of controversy and intrigue surrounding the invention of the telephone. There have been court cases, books, and articles generated about the subject. Of course, Alexander Graham Bell is the father of the telephone. Since it was his design that was first patented, however, he was not the first inventor to come up with the idea of a telephone.
  • There has been much debate over whether Bell or Meucci should be credited for the invention of the telephone. Finally, On June 11, 2002 the U.S. Congress recognized Meucci as the real inventor. Some say that Bell should be the inventor, while other still believe that Meucci should be given credit.
meucci s caveat
Meucci’s Caveat
  • Antonio Meucci, began developing the design of a talking telegraph or telephone in 1849. In 1871, he filed a caveat (an announcement of an invention) for his design of a talking telegraph. Due to hardships, Meucci could not renew his caveat. It was then that Alexander Bell filled for the invention of the telephone and got it.
  • Meucci’s invention of the practical telephone sparked a new era of modern communication.
  • The telephone was and still is the basics of modern world communication.
  • Without the invention of the telephone, businesses and social activities would not be the same.

So finally almost 150 years later, after a hard struggle fighting for his invention, which was taken away from him by Alexander Graham Bell, Antonio Meucci is given credit for the invention of the telephone on June 11 2002.