Ever wonder who invented the telephone and what it took to get it to where it is today. If your answer is yes, then we’re in the same boat. The evolution of the telephone has certainly been a long and painful process. From the first telephone to the smartphone we use today it’s hard to believe that an invention can keep moving forward like this one did and still keep going. The credit for inventing the first practical telephone has always been given to Alexander Graham Bell an inventor that was born back in 1847. He also co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph company also known as AT&T. It’s crazy to think that this company has been alive since 1885. It has been a long time and they’re still in service. Finding himself constantly surrounded by research on speech, language, and sound which was pushed by his parents because of their hearing conditions. This is also true for his wife which also suffered from a hearing condition. Even with all this he never accepted himself as the inventor of the telephone as it was what he considered to be an intrusion on his work as a scientist. It was in 1876 that he was awarded the first US patent for the telephone.
The first telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell at 35 Wallace Street, Edinburgh. Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh on 3rd March 1847. He lived with his family at 35 Wallace Street, a reasonably close walk to the Grassmarket area of the city where his grandfather worked as a vocal coach to the upper classes. It is no surprise then that young Alec grew up fascinated by sound and its production. His mother had also fallen pregnant with him at the early age of twenty-one years old so he was likely seen as an unexpected but much-loved addition to their family which consisted of two sons and three daughters already.
He left for America when he was just 22 years old after receiving his first patent for inventing a reed organ, based on harmoniums. It was not until he had already patented several devices that he turned his mind to the idea of a ‘speaking machine’ and in 1876, just one year shy of his thirtieth birthday, he applied his notes and sketches to the construction of something very close to what we recognize as a telephone today.
The Following Were The Stages He Went Through To Get The Telephone Working
Stage 1: The idea of a ‘speaking telegraph’ was first documented in his journal on 4th March 1874. However, he only briefly mentions the concept stating that much work would be involved but it may become possible if someone were to “push an analogy far enough” between sound and electricity.
Stage 2: Weeks later, on 20th March, Alexander Graham Bell wrote about this concept again telling himself how useful it would be if he could “convert air vibrations into undulations…of the electrical current”.
Stage 3: He took this idea further still by writing about how he could “produce undulations in the thread itself — say at the rate of four hundred or five hundred a second”.
Stage 4: By the end of March he realized that this was not possible and that there would need to be some sort of “interrupter” in order to achieve what he wanted.
Stage 5: It became apparent to him on 20th April 1874, when talking about the ‘speaking telegraph’ again, that he could use a clockwork device that would cause a key to impact against an electromagnet. This is very close conceptually to what eventually made it into production as the telephonic receiver we know today.
Stage 6: It was then decided that the clockwork device should be connected to a membrane of some kind in order to make the undulations heard on another end, rather than having them on the electromagnet itself.
Stage 7: The membrane became a ‘diaphragm’, otherwise known as a loudspeaker, with metal electrodes on its front and back which would create fluctuations of electricity when the key impacted against it. This is very similar to what we see on telephones today.
Stage 8: It became apparent that this device would need to include another electrode to complete the circuit between two different membranes which were each connected to their own electromagnets. This meant that when someone talked into one side, their words would be heard by someone at the other end because sound waves caused fluctuations in the air which moved their membrane, and then those undulations were turned into fluctuations of electricity on the other end.
Stage 9: It became apparent that more than one membrane would be required — more specifically, one for each person wanting to speak at a time. This meant that there needed to be some way of connecting these membranes together in order to create complex patterns which would allow their conversation to be heard. He figured this out early on by realizing that it could be achieved with small metal discs nailed over holes in the wooden base of the phone’s case so that different combinations of dots and dashes could connect them all up properly.
Stage 10: The device was created but it wasn’t until March 1875 when he filed his patent for this new which he called “the talking telegraph”.
It is clear that Alexander Graham Bell went through many stages of the invention before he allowed himself to be satisfied with something which would later go on to change the world.
Other people who had been thinking along the same lines as Mr. Alexander Graham Bell and who were trying to find ways of transferring sounds across vast distances were describing what they wanted in very similar terms. For example, Charles Bourseul wrote about a “speaking telegraph” on 7th March 1854 and Antonio Meucci filed a patent for an “electro-magnetic telephone” on 14th January 1861.
The invention of the telephone was one that took multiple contributions from numerous inventors not including Alexander Graham Bell. These inventors don’t often get too much light because of the more popular names that are known by all. They are still contributors to the evolution of this invention and were great inventors in their own way.