Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone . . . or did he?

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”

Those were the first words spoken on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, on March 10, 1876. Most people today credit Bell as the sole inventor of the telephone. But Bell is often accused of stealing part of his concept for the telephone from fellow inventor Elisha Gray.

Both Gray and Bell applied for a patent from the U.S. Patent Office on the same day: February 14, 1876. Bell was issued his patent on March 7, 1876, and three days later transmitted the first clear words through an acoustic telegraph.

Have your students research the Bell-Gray controversy and discuss which inventor should have received the patent for the telephone. Discuss with them why patents are important. You may also want to have them discuss the impact the telephone has had on history. Your students may be interested in looking at Bell’s experimental notebook entry from March 10, 1876.

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