The Telephone and Its Several Inventors

A History

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About the Book

On March 7, 1876, the U.S. Patent Office issued to a young inventor named Alexander Graham Bell what is arguably the most valuable patent ever: entitled “improvements in telegraphy,” in truth it secured for Bell the basic principles involved in a telephone.
On the same day that Bell filed his patent application, a caveat (a preliminary patent document) was filed by Elisha Gray. This coincidence sparked the first of many debates over whether Bell was the true inventor of the telephone. In the early 1860s Johann Phillipp Reis developed a version of the instrument, but his claims against Bell were hampered by the bungling of his lawyers in demonstrating his instrument in court. This work is a first look at the many men who developed the telephone and an examination of their claims against Bell’s patent. A lay description of the phone is also provided, as well as a history of the development of the telephone system.

About the Author(s)

Lewis Coe of Crown Point, Indiana, is also the author of Wireless Radio (1996) and The Telegraph (1993).

Bibliographic Details

Lewis Coe
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, appendices, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [1995]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2609-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2145-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Telephone Chronology      viii

Introduction      ix

1. The Patent      1

2. The Poor Schoolmaster      16

3. Yellow Breeches Creek      25

4. Under Pressure      31

5. Inventors Galore!      39

6. A Great Undertaking      47

7. Long Distance      58

8. A Man from Oberlin      67

9. Western Union      75

10. The Military Telephone      85

11. Down on the Farm      102

12. Collecting Telephones      116

13. Hackers and Phreaks      135

14. Over the Waves      144

15. The Singing Wires      156

16. How They Worked      173

17. The New Kids on the Block      180

18. Conclusion      186

Appendices      175

1. Cities with Independent Telephone Companies      189

2. Cities That Once Had Independent Telephone Companies      190

3. Associations and Publications Related to Telephony      192

4. Insulator Manufacturers in the United States      194

5. Telephone Manufacturers      195

6. Some Communications Museums in the United States      197

7. Affidavits of Zenas Fisk Wilber      198

8. Affidavits of Alexander Graham Bell in Reply to That of Zenas Fisk Wilber      204

9. The Untold Story of the Telephone      206

10. Alexander Graham Bell’s Original Patent Application, 1876      214

11. Alexander Graham Bell’s Patent Application, 1877      220

Glossary      225

Bibliography      226

Index      227

Book Reviews & Awards

“history buffs will find the book of interest. All levels”—Choice; “a labor of love…exceptionally well-researched, and contains a fine balance of technical and often startling historical information that grips the reader’s interest well past bedtime”—Inventor’s Digest; “excellent”—Dots and Dashes.