Today we observe National Telephone Day. The telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. In 1876, Scottish immigrant Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be granted a United States patent for a device that produced clearly intelligible replication of the human voice. This instrument was further developed by many others. The telephone was the first device in history that enabled people to talk directly with each other across large distances. Telephones rapidly became indispensable to businesses, government, and households.
Yet, there was great controversy about whether or not Elisha Gray, an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company, was the true inventor. Gray is best known for his development of a telephone prototype in 1876 in Highland Park, Illinois. Some recent authors have argued that Gray should be considered the true inventor of the telephone because Alexander Graham Bell allegedly stole the idea of the liquid transmitter from him; although Bell had been using liquid transmitters in his telephone experiments for more than two years previously. Bell’s telephone patent was held up in numerous court decisions. Of course inevitably, Gramham was granted the patent.
Today, this invention undoubtedly dominoed into the most communicable device in the history of inventions, the mobile or cellular phone. Many households and businesses still use landlines, and personally, I don’t think that is a bad thing. Landline phones have been a saving grace in many emergency situations where mobile signals are unable to reach.
So, with modern technology transcending the way we were with telephone usage 20 years ago, we have to credit the invention of the telephone as one of our most widely used and transformed devices ever! Happy National Telephone Day!