Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Who Invented and Who Cashed Telephone?

For 113 years, Alexandra Graham Bell was considered to be inventor of Telephone and famously referred as Father of modern mass communication but in June 2002 U.S. Congress officially passed an unprecedented resolution crediting Antonio Meucci as the rightful inventor of telephone. Why such a blunder happened in the history of telecommunication? The Answer is Patent. Yes, it was the issuance of U.S. Patent 174,465 which changed the fortune of Bell and deprived Meucci from crediting his invention in his name. Following the U.S. resolution, one of the Italian newspaper la Repubblica wrote down that justice had finally been served – 113 years after Meucci’s death. The newspaper also referred to Bell as an imposter, profiteer and a “cunning Scotsman” who usurped Meucci’s spot in history, while Meucci died poor and unrecognized. Meucci, who first demonstrated his invention in 1860, also filed a patent application for telephone but couldn’t afford the US $ 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 US $ 10 to renew it. However, he sent a model and technical details to the Western Union telegraph company but could not succeed to attract company’s executives. Moreover, 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 U.S. patent for a telephone against which U.S. Patent was issued on March 07, 1876, and went on to became a celebrity and made lucrative deal with Western Union. On June 11, 2002 the U.S. Congress in its resolution recognized that 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. The resolution also recognized 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 1876. If he had, Alexander Graham Bell would not have been granted his patent two years later. This is how a single patent changed the fortune of Alexandra Graham Bell, and documented his name in the history as the inventor of telephone which, unfortunately, he wasn’t.

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