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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Once and for all the true story behind the telephone invention

Bell is cut off as originator of the phone
U.S. Congress gives honour to Italian immigrant

BRANTFORD, Ont. - Stunned officials have been burning up the phone lines after learning that the U.S. Congress has ousted Alexander Graham Bell - the pride of Brantford - as the father of modern mass communications.

Bell has long been recognized as the inventor of the telephone, the concept for which he developed at his family's Brantford, Ont. homestead. His revolutionary device was patented in the United States in 1876. But last week, Congress passed a resolution crediting little-known Italian immigrant Antonio Meucci as the phone's rightful originator.

Brian Wood, curator of the Bell Homestead Museum in Brantford, was surprised to hear of the resolution.

"If this can be proven, then Meucci certainly deserves recognition as contributing to the realm of telephony," Wood said. "But I don't see it as a huge threat. There may be others all over the world who did similar things but didn't get patented or legally known."


The fact is that the inventor usually is the one that did those things first.

Everybody now a day knows how to write, but nobody would say: "There may be others all over the world who did similar things but didn't get patented or legally known"


The Italian newspaper la Repubblica wrote on Monday that justice had finally been served - 113 years after Meucci's death. The newspaper referred to Bell as an impostor, profiteer and a "cunning Scotsman" who usurped Meucci's spot in history, while Meucci died poor and unrecognized.

Vito Fossella, a U.S. congressman for Staten Island, N.Y., authored the resolution.

"In the past number of years, historical records and scholarly research have concluded that Meucci was the original inventor of the telephone, long before Bell," said Fossella's spokesperson, Craig Donner. "Because of Meucci's role, he should receive recognition for his contribution."

The resolution recognizes that Meucci filed a caveat on his early telephone on Dec. 28, 1871, which gave notice of an impending patent. But the Italian inventor couldn't afford the $10 to renew the caveat in 1874. If he had, the resolution says, Alexander Graham Bell would not have been granted his patent two years later.

But no matter what, said Wood, Brantford will always be the home of the telephone.

"The history behind Bell and what he did here will always be in place. The work Bell did here was very significant. Bell himself claimed that Brantford was where he invented the telephone."


A more "super partes" article:


And finally, an article from "The Guardian":
Bell did not invent telephone, US rules

Scot accused of finding fame by stealing Italian's ideas
Rory Carroll in Rome - Monday June 17, 2002 - The Guardian


Italy hailed the redress of a historic injustice yesterday after the US Congress recognised an impoverished Florentine immigrant as the inventor of the telephone rather than Alexander Graham Bell.

Historians and Italian-Americans won their battle to persuade Washington to recognise a little-known mechanical genius, Antonio Meucci, as a father of modern communications, 113 years after his death.

The vote by the House of Representatives prompted joyous claims in Meucci's homeland that finally Bell had been outed as a perfidious Scot who found fortune and fame by stealing another man's work.

Calling the Italian's career extraordinary and tragic, the resolution said his "teletrofono", demonstrated in New York in 1860, made him the inventor of the telephone in the place of Bell, who had access to Meucci's materials and who took out a patent 16 years later.

"It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognised, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged," the resolution stated.

Bell's immortalisation in books and films has rankled with generations of Italians who know Meucci's story.
Born in 1808, he studied design and mechanical engineering at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, and as a stage technician at the city's Teatro della Pergola developed a primitive system to help colleagues communicate.

In the 1830s he moved to Cuba and, while working on methods to treat illnesses with electric shocks, found that sounds could travel by electrical impulses through copper wire. Sensing potential, he moved to Staten Island, near New York City, in 1850 to develop the technology.

When Meucci's wife, Ester, became paralysed he rigged a system to link her bedroom with his neighbouring workshop and in 1860 held a public demonstration which was reported in New York's Italian-language press.
In between giving shelter to political exiles, Meucci struggled to find financial backing, failed to master English and was severely burned in an accident aboard a steamship.
Forced to make new prototype telephones after Ester sold his machines for $6 to a secondhand shop, his models became more sophisticated. An inductor formed around an iron core in the shape of a cylinder was a technique so sophisticated that it was used decades later for long-distance connections.

Meucci could not afford the $250 needed for a definitive patent for his "talking telegraph" so in 1871 filed a one-year renewable notice of an impending patent. Three years later he could not even afford the $10 to renew it.

He sent a model and technical details to the Western Union telegraph company but failed to win a meeting with executives. When he asked for his materials to be returned, in 1874, he was told they had been lost. Two years later Bell, who shared a laboratory with Meucci, filed a patent for a telephone, became a celebrity and made a lucrative deal with Western Union.

Meucci sued and was nearing victory - the supreme court agreed to hear the case and fraud charges were initiated against Bell - when the Florentine died in 1889. The legal action died with him.
Yesterday the newspaper La Repubblica welcomed the vote to recognise the Tuscan inventor as a belated comeuppance for Bell, a "cunning Scotsman" and "usurper" whose per- fidy built a communications empire.
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