Who really invented the telephone?
April 18, 2008 10:06 PM   Subscribe

Who really invented the telephone? Was it this guy?, or did he just win a foot race to the patent office with this guy or was it really...

...this guy? Personally, I think it was really this guy who got the the whole telecom thing rolling.
posted by Rafaelloello (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Who really invented the telephone? It was the first kids who ever strung together two cans and a piece of string.

Seriously, though, as the daughter of a father (RIP) who worked his whole adult life for "Ma Bell," I find this stuff interesting. Thanks.
posted by amyms at 10:29 PM on April 18, 2008

Possibly Bell was beaten to the invention by the folks you mention above, although with stuff like that it tends to get invented when it needs to be.

Read this about Bell though:
A wonderful mood surrounds all this invention. Photos show Bell with children -- always playing with children. They show Mabel, pulled halfway off her feet, measuring the stress in a kite line. Raw affection wells up everywhere. Bell writes to Mabel when she sits for her portrait:

"... lay ... siege to [the artist's] heart ... that those beautiful eyes and sweet face I value so much may grow out of the canvas."

So what did happen after the telephone? A warm, inventive man kept right on creating. He left us a legacy of invention that reached far beyond the telephone. That legacy flowed from a great mind. But it flowed from a very large heart, as well.
The Engines of Our Ingenuity, No. 587, John H. Lienhard
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:44 PM on April 18, 2008

Reminds me of the invention wars between Edison and Tesla.

Great post, thanks!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:32 AM on April 19, 2008

This frustrates me no end. I, too, was taught the Great Inventor view of progress, as if people were just sitting on their asses except for this One Guy who was creating something New and Wonderful in his workshop with clothespins and some string.

In reality, invention is a collaborative and competitive process, with most inventors responsible for one small, sometimes key advancement, but building on what has already been done by many others. Edison's light bulb was an improvement on many existing but inferior light bulbs. Gray and Bell were just two of many people working in this area at the same time.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2008

BTW, sorry that my fourth link seems to be a little balky, mostly with FireFox, it seems. Last night I posted this FPP on a PC and observed some inconsistent behavior when comparing the links in FF and IE. Right now I'm on a Mac and the image loads every time in Safari and never in FF. I don't get it, it's just a jpeg? I get the dreaded Forbidden on FF right now on my mac (running Firefox/ on Tiger/10.4.11)

Anyway, apologies to all affected.
posted by Rafaelloello at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2008

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