The History of the Telephone

In the mid-Nineteenth Century Antonio Meucci, an Italian who lived and worked in the USA, created an instrument that could transmit sound. Graham Bell worked for a long time on the theories of Meucci and tried to send sound signals created by the vibration of steel bars, following the seven musical notes. Elisha Gray was contemporaneously studying an electric sound transmission system called harmonic telegraph, and gave a demonstration in 1876, but two hours before presenting a request for patent, Alexander Graham Bell presented his own. As a result, above all in the United States and Canada, Bell is accredited with the invention. In 1871 Antonio Meucci demonstrated how his apparatus, which he called “telectrophone” worked and presented a temporary patent, to be renewed yearly at a cost of 10 dollars, but he could only renew it until 1873, not being able to afford the sum of 200 dollars for the definitive patent. After having created this very important invention, he died poor and forgotten, and only on 11 June 2002 did the Congress of the United States recognise Antonio Meucci as being father of the telephone. In Italy, the first practical test of the telephone was carried out on 30 December 1877, between two apparati made by the Gerosa brothers and the first telephone service began in 1881. The first transatlantic telephone call was made between New York and London on 7 January 1927. The story of the subsequent inventions and improvements of the electric telephone include: the microphone with membrane filled with carbon granules, which was then replaced by the electric microphone, the manual switchboard, the disc selector, the pentaconta system, the automatic telephone switchboard, the Touch Tone keyboard for tone composition, sound digitalisation with various coding techniques, among which impulse modulation. The most recent systems include: IP, ISDN, ADSL telephony, cell phones, cordless phones, and third generation cell phones, which allow the user to transfer data at high speed.

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