|Quoting Oldeuropean (Reply 5):|
Johann Philipp Reis invented the telephone in 1861, 16 years before Bell constructed his aparatus.
" Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray raced to invent the telephone.
In the 1870s, two inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically (the telephone). Both men rushed their respective designs to the patent office within hours of each other, Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone first. Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell entered into a famous legal battle over the invention of the telephone, which Bell won.
Alexander Graham Bell - Evolution of the Telegraph into the Telephone
The telegraph and telephone are both wire-based electrical systems, and Alexander Graham Bell's success with the telephone came as a direct result of his attempts to improve the telegraph.
When Bell began experimenting with electrical signals, the telegraph had been an established means of communication for some 30 years...."
"At the end of this page are some links to external web sites that discuss some of these other contenders. But first, read the following section from a book titled "The History of the Telephone" BY
HERBERT N. CASSON - First edition - A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago - Published: 1910. The following paragraphs from the book give an account of some of the court battles that Bell went through in defending his claim as the inventor of the telephone:
"After Gray, the weightiest challenger who came against Bell was Professor Amos E. Dolbear, of Tufts College. He, like Gray, had written a letter of applause to Bell in 1877. "I congratulate you, sir," he said, "upon your very great invention, and I hope to see it supplant all forms of existing telegraphs, and that you will be successful in obtaining the wealth and honor which is your due." But one year later, Dolbear came to view with an opposition telephone. It was not an imitation of Bell's, he insisted, but an improvement upon an electrical device made by a German named Philip Reis, in 1861.
Thus there appeared upon the scene the so-called "Reis telephone," which was not a telephone at all, in any practical sense, but which served well enough for nine years or more as a weapon to use against the Bell patents. Poor Philip Reis himself, the son of a baker in Frankfort, Germany, had hoped to make a telephone, but he had failed. His machine was operated by a "make-and-break" current, and so could not carry the infinitely delicate vibrations made by the human voice. It could transmit the pitch of a sound, but not the QUALITY. At its best, it could carry a tune, but never at any time a spoken sentence. Reis, in his later years, realized that his machine could never be used for the transmission of conversation; and in a letter to a friend he tells of a code of signals that he has invented.
Bell had once, during his three years of experimenting, made a Reis machine, although at that time he had not seen one. But he soon threw it aside, as of no practical value. As a teacher of acoustics, Bell knew that the one indispensable requirement of a telephone is that it shall transmit the WHOLE of a sound, and not merely the pitch of it. Such scientists as Lord Kelvin, Joseph Henry, and Edison had seen the little Reis instrument years before Bell invented the telephone; but they regarded it as a mere musical toy. It was "not in any sense a speaking telephone," said Lord Kelvin. And Edison, when trying to put the Reis machine in the most favorable light, admitted humorously that when he used a Reis transmitter he generally "knew what was coming; and knowing what was coming, even a Reis transmitter, pure and simple, reproduces sounds which seem almost like that which was being transmitted; but when the man at the other end did not know what was coming, it was very seldom that any word was recognized."
In the course of the Dolbear lawsuit, a Reis machine was brought into court, and created much amusement. It was able to squeak, but not to speak. Experts and professors wrestled with it in vain. It refused to transmit one intelligible sentence. "It CAN
speak, but it WON'T," explained one of Dolbear's lawyers. It is now generally known that while a Reis machine, when clogged and out of order, would transmit a word or two in an imperfect way, it was built on wrong lines. It was no more a telephone than a wagon is a sleigh, even though it is possible to chain the wheels and make them slide for a foot or two. Said Judge Lowell, in rendering his famous decision:
"A century of Reis would never have produced a speaking telephone by mere improvement of construction. It was left for Bell to discover that the failure was due not to workmanship but to the principle which was adopted as the basis of what had to be done. . . . Bell discovered a new art--that of transmitting speech by electricity, and his claim is not as broad as his invention. . . . To follow Reis is to fail; but to follow Bell is to succeed." ..."
'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. Albert Einstein