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Origin Of The Telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

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In the 1870’s, two inventors by the name of Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both separately designed a device that could transmit speech electrically; now known as the telephone. When finished both men took their respective designs to the patent office on the same day and within hours of each other. Bell was the first to patented his telephone however this began a famous legal battle between Gray and Bell over the invention of the telephone, which Bell won.

The telephone and telegraph are both based on wired electrical systems and Bell’s success with the telephone came directly as a result of his attempts to make a better telegraph system.

The telegraph had been an established means of communication for around 30 years when Bell began experimenting with electrical signals. Even though it was a highly successful system, the telegraph using Morse code was essentially limited to receiving or sending only one message at a time.

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Bell’s extensive knowledge of the nature of sound and his understanding of music enabled him to conjecture the possibility of transmitting multiple messages over the same wire at the same time. Although the idea of a multiple telegraph had been in existence since 1835, devised in 1828 by French composer Jean-François Sudré (1787-1862); each tone played over several octaves represented a letter of the alphabet, from French téléphone, from télé meaning ‘far’ plus phone meaning ‘sound’ however Sudré’s system never proved practical.

Another apparatus in the early 19th century was an instrument similar to a foghorn for signalling from ship to ship. The electrical communication tool was first described in modern form by Philip Reis (1861); developed by Scottish-born inventor A. G. Bell. He offered his own musical or harmonic approach as a possible practical solution and his “harmonic telegraph” was based on the principle that several notes could be sent simultaneously along the same wire if the notes or signals differed in pitch.

On the 2nd June 1875, Alexander Graham Bell while experimenting with his technique called “harmonic telegraph” and discovered he could hear sound over a wire which was that of a twanging clock spring.

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Bell’s greatest success was on March 10th, 1876 and marked not only the birth of the telephone but the death of the multiple telegraphs as well. The communications potential contained in his demonstration of being able to talk with electricity far outweighed anything that simply increasing the capability of the dots and dashes of the Morse code system could entail.

Bell’s notebook entry of 10th March 1876 describes his successful experiment with the telephone. Speaking through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room, Bell utters these famous first words, “Mr. Watson; come here I want to see you.”

Sources:
Online Etymology Dictionary .
The History of the Telephone by Mary Bellis.

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