Antonio Meucci was
the real inventor of telephony
On the past June 15th, 2002, the US Congress officially recognized
that the italian inventor Antonio Meucci is to be credited
for the invention of the telephone, and not Alexander G. Bell, as
so far claimed.
click here for the US Congress resolution -
This was the end of a long controversy, started when a poor italian
immigrant in New York sold the prototypes of his invention to a
Telegraph company, that later gave them to Alexander G. Bell, who
in turn patented the invention of the phone.
Still now in downtown Boston, MA, a monumet marks the spot where
the "first" phone call took place (see ies, click them
for a larger version). But things apparently went differently...
Born in 1808 in Florence, in 1845 he left his poor homeland to the
new world. Initially obsessed with medical uses of electricity,
Meucci realized soon that one could transmit voice via wire, and
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, that he did not
have). Even worse, he had to sell all his early models for $6 in
1870 when he fell ill. However in 1871 he managed to obtain a cheaper
official document called a 'Caveat' stating his paternity of the
invention (that he called teletrophone).
te sale of the old prototypes, in 1874 he handed some new models
to the vice-president of Western Union Telegraphs, and in 1876 he
had the surprise to read from the newspapers that Alexander G. Bell
was credited of this amazing new invention. In 1887 the judges annulled
Bell's patent, but since his 1871 Caveat was by then expired, he
was never credited with the invention.
In the years of poverty, he kept on repeating to his wife that
his inventions would make them rich one day. He died poor in 1889
in New York City. After 113 years, the Congress on request of an
italian-american representative officially stated that Meucci was
to be considered the inventor of the telephone.
The moral judgment of Bell and of the effect of his actions of course
are left to our readers.