August 24, 2017

Alexander Graham Bell

"Mr. Watson, come here -- I want to see you." Those famous words were uttered by Alexander Graham Bell on March 10, 1876, in Scollay Square in Boston. They were spoken at a workshop on the second floor of 109 Court Street.

Things I learned about Alexander Graham Bell time in Boston

  • He came to Boston to teach visual communications to the Boston school for the deaf. The school originally wanted his father but Alexander did well enough in teaching the children that the school was satisfied with the replacement.
  • He was a professor of the mechanism of speech at Boston University School of Oratory. He wanted to invent some device that would transmit sound over telegraph wires.
  • Boston University invested in his telephone invention by paying his yearly salary up front.
  • He witnessed the Great Boston Fire of 1872. He wrote his accounts of the fire in a letter to the Boston Globe. The Globe never posted his eyewitness to history.
  • The building where the first telephone transmission was made was taken down in the 1920s.
  • The laboratory was carefully moved to the Verizon Building. (It has since been removed to an undisclosed location.)
  • The building at 109 Court Street was the birthplace of the first transmission of sound over the wire and the first use of the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell Marker

On Court Street is a marker to where Alexander Graham Bell discovered the telephone

The First Telephone

The marker reads, "Birthplace of the Telephone. Here, on June 2, 1875, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson first transmitted sound over wires. This successful experiment was completed in a fifth-floor garret at what was then 109 Court Street and marked the beginning of worldwide telephone service."

The marker is located next to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building. You can see it next to the blue sign on the Cambridge Street side of the building. Simply walk along the Boston City Hall Plaza towards Sudbury Street. You'll see the "John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building" sign. The marker is on the other side of the bushes.

Alexander Lived Here

While in Boston, Alexander Graham Bell lived at 38 W. Newton St., Boston MA. A petition was submitted to the Boston Landmark Commission to make it a landmark. The request was denied on April 1979. I assume that the original building was taken down to make room for modern buildings. It is now a private residence, there are no signs to indicated who lived there before.

Given the location of Alexander home and work, chances are that he might have walked the streets of Boston to get to and from work. He would know about the Great Elm of the Boston Commons and probably cut through the commons to get to his workshop.

Invented the Telephone?

Most people have been taught that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. However, there is controversy on who really invented the telephone.

The telephone design was the patent on March 7, 1876. On January 13, 1887, the Government of the United States moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation, a case that the Supreme Court found viable and remanded for trial.

107th Congress Action in 2001 and 2002

Members of the 107th Congress voted in favor for giving credit to Antonio Meucci as the inventor of the telephone:

Whereas Antonio Meucci, the great Italian inventor, had a career that was both extraordinary and tragic; Whereas, upon immigrating to New York, Meucci continued to work with ceaseless vigor on a project he had begun in Havana, Cuba, an invention he later called the ''teletrofono'', involving electronic communications;
Whereas Meucci died in October 1889, the Bell patent expired in January 1893, and the case was discontinued as moot without ever reaching the underlying issue of the true inventor of the telephone entitled to the patent; and
Whereas if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.

Note: Only the House of Representatives voted on this action. No Senate vote was taken.

Remove the Alexander Graham Bell Marker?

Should Boston remove the Telephone marker near City Hall? Based on the actions by Congress, the marker gives false credit to Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone.


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