The True Story of the Inventor of Telephony
Human history has proved again and again that things are not always what they seem. Antonio Meucci is one of the inventors whom history was unfair with.
The Italian inventor Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci, (1808-1889), was the one who first invented the voice-communication apparatus as the first telephone and not Alexander Graham Bell, who is best known as the “Father of Telephony”. Surprised?
Antonio was the eldest of nine children of Domenica Pepi and Amatis Meucci. His mother was a housekeeper, and his father worked as a policeman.
Unfortunately, only four out of Meucci’s nine siblings survived childhood, so evidently, his life included hardships. Being poor was a severe obstacle to achieving his goals. Nevertheless, Meucci was an intelligent young man! At the age of 15, in November 1821, he was admitted to the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, in which he was the youngest student in the department of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering.
When Creativity meets Expertise
In 1830, he worked as a stage designer and technician for various theatres. Three years later, he obtained a position at the famous opera house, the Pergola Theatre in Florence. It was at that moment when young Antonio took the opportunity to put into practice his knowledge of engineering, by working as a stage technician. Life also brought him a loving wife, the costume designer Ester Mochi.
His journey seemed that it started going well. Until 1833 when Antonio Meucci was imprisoned for three months with the accusation of conspiring with the Italian unification movement. After that, he decided to immigrate with his wife to Cuba in order to make a fresh start.
As a genius, inventive and unstoppable, in 1834, he designed an acoustic pipe telephone to allow communication between the stage and the control room at the Teatro della Pergola. This type of telephone was based on the pipe telephones utilized on ships. In 1835 he became chief engineer at the Gran Teatro de Tacon in Havana. During the same period, he devised a water purification system that helped Havana residents to get clean water.
In 1849, he did it again! He explored electromedicine, using electrical impulses to treat human pain from migraines. During this invention, he designed a device that was called the “Telegrafo Parlante” or the “Teletrofono” or, in other words, the talking telegraph. That was going to be the beginning of a revolutionary invention!
On April 13, 1850, Meucci and his wife moved to the United States. Although he had to start over, a creative mind always finds a way! Meucci built a tallow candle factory which was actually the first of its kind in the US. Some wonderful years followed between 1856 and 1870 when Meucci developed more than 30 types of telephone patents based on his prototype.
Time is Money
In 1871, Meucci registered his patent of the talking telegraph. During the following years, an explosion on the ferry he used to travel on, left him with serious burns. In order to pay for his medical expenses, his wife sold most of the designs and models of the “Teletrofono”.
Meucci tried to retrieve the designs but they had already been resold. When it was time to register the designs again in order to maintain his patent, he could not financially respond. Five years later, in 1876, the young and rich Graham Bell, who had worked for a while with Antonio Meucci, used the same patent with a different name. He called it “Graphophone”. Was it a random event? The conclusion is yours!
The Truth is Revealed 152 Years Later!
It took 152 years until the truth was exposed. On June 11, 2002 the United States Congress acknowledged Italian immigrant Antonio Meucci as the true inventor of the telephone. Today, we have the opportunity to honor him by making the first Antonio Meucci Global Telco Awards! We are about to write history… the way Meucci deserves!