"Mister Watson, come here": the story of the first phone call

Today March 10 is fulfilled 140 years of the first bi-directional phone call in History, a good time to remember the chaotic process that reached that conclusion.

Still today there is a great controversy by the author of the invention of the phone, and stories and testimonies continue to appear that point to several people were working on the same concept at almost the same time.

But mainly, it all depends on what you consider phone. A device to communicate remotely? So the phone is as old as the idea of ​​joining two glasses by a thread.

The confused origins of the phone

The use of electricity? So the concept of Charles Bourseul and Innocenzo Manzetti of a record that vibrates with soundVarying the current of a battery, it would also be a telephone, although back then, the 1840s, they weren't even planning to use electricity for transmission.

The person who used the term telephone

Is a telephone a device that allows us to convert a sound to an electrical signal? Then the achievement is from the german Johann Philipp Reis, who, inspired by Bourseul's concept, created in 1862 a device based on a coil of cable placed over a hole in a box; the cable contracts when the electric current passed through it and produced contact with the receiver.

Reis was the person who came up with the term telephone, although in reality his apparatus was still lacking many of the elements that we consider basic, such as the transmission of words.

The musical notes were recognizable, but not the speechAlthough Reis tried it with a somewhat strange phrase, Das Pferd frisst keinen Gurkensalat, The horse does not eat German cucumber salad.

A fruit device from an era of inventors

Countless people claimed to have achieved the same at the time, and there are even those who point to a young Nikola Tesla as the inventor of the phone as we know it (although he was born in 1856).

As you can see, the question is not as simple as it seemed at the beginning of this article, and all these people can be considered as inventors of the phone to the same extent; If anything, this is proof that the nineteenth century was a golden age for experiments and innovations.

The fight for the patent of the telephone

So we got to the morning of February 14, 1876, when two different people patented a very similar concept of acoustic telegraph: Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, two inventors who had previously fought each other to pioneer various inventions, now collided again.

Although both patents seemed to deal with the same thing, Elisha Gray's was much more complete, since it specified the method to transmit speech with a water transmitter. The vibration of a diaphragm caused a needle to vibrate in the water, and that in turn caused variations in the electrical resistance and therefore the transmission of sound. This sound was suitable for speech, unlike the Reis model.

Graham Bell himself was not the person who registered his patent, but his lawyers. That's because Bell had already foreseen the situation, and had asked one of his associates to try the patent in Britain and his lawyers to try it in the US, to have all bases controlled.

Another very important detail is that, although Elisha Gray's patent was more complete, had no working prototypeAnd that's why he had to apply for a one-year period to make it happen, something common at the US patent office back then.

However, Bell's patent was granted on March 7, and so, as soon as Bell returned to the laboratory the same day, I worked tirelessly to get a working prototype that he could make it clear that his patent was the good one, if it happened that Elisha Gray fought his patent.

The day the first phone call occurred

And just three days later, on March 10, 1876, he succeeded. Using a liquid transmitter, much like the one in Gray's patent, Bell said the words that would become famous:

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

Mr. Watson was Thomas Watson, his assistant who was in an adjoining room and who he could hear the words clearly. They had succeeded, not only had they registered the patent, but they had shown that it worked, and since then Alexander Graham Bell has been regarded as the inventor of the phone.

Yours was also the first long-distance call between New York and Chicago in 1892. Back then his inventions and his company had made him a millionaire, but ironically in his private life the phone always bothered him, distracting him from his job as a scientist.

Plagi Bell Gray's patent? It is possible, but that does not mean that, of all the people who claimed to have invented the phone, his model was the first to really meet all the requirements so that we can consider it as such. And that alone is already a great achievement.

Be that as it may, every time you make a call, you don't have to thank just Bell, but all the great inventors who made the explosion of technology in the 19th century.