Who was the real inventor of the telephone?

There are two important characters involved in this story: Antonio Meucci and Alexander Graham Bell. The former invented the telephone and the latter patented it. How is this possible?

Who was the real inventor of the telephone?
The true inventor of the telephone, who was he? Photo by Pawel Czerwinski / Unsplash

Would you have guessed that the history of the invention of the telephone was shrouded in controversy and controversies and unfortunate life stories that lasted more than a century? In this story, we have two important characters involved: Antonio Meucci and Alexander Graham Bell. The former invented the telephone, and the latter patented it. How is this possible?

Let's travel a few years into the past, Meucci was an inventor who was born in Florence, Italy. Meucci was an inventor who was born in Florence, Italy; he studied mechanical engineering and applied his knowledge in the Pergola Theater applied his knowledge at the Pergola Theater, where he was a stage technician and where he met Ester Mochi. Ester Mochi, with whom he fell in love and married.

Political situations forced Meucci to emigrate to Cuba, where he worked at the Teatro Tacón in Havana and in 1849 designed the prototype of what later became the telephone, his objective was to communicate the stage with the control room, and he became obsessed with the potential of what would become his main project.

Shortly thereafter he had to move to the United States of America, at which time his wife suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, so he was bedridden all the time. Given her situation, Antonio continued researching and improving his designs until in 1854 he created the telettrofono, a device that connected his office with Ester's room, so he could be in communication with her.

Meucci's work was unprecedented, and his idea was truly innovative, however, financial problems began to arise and an unfortunate accident caused by an explosion on a ferry on which he was traveling further worsened his situation. His medical needs had to be urgently attended to, so he was forced to sell his research and designs to a pawn shop to raise money.

When Meucci wanted to recover his work, his projects had been resold, he lost valuable information, naturally, he knew his research in detail, they were his work! but in a world where legal protection was the most important thing, uncertainty was eating away at him.

He then founded the company Telettrofono in association with three other Italians, who, worried about not having the patent of the invention, advised him to mobilize procedures, but he only obtained an annual license, which was not very effective.

The company was soon dissolved and in the year 1874 Antonio could not renew his license, just two years later, on March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, a British scientist, received the patent for the renowned invention: the telephone, described as a device that transmitted sounds utilizing a wire through electrical signals.

The legal battle began, as Alexander was an employee of the company Meucci asked to test his invention in a desperate attempt to show the world that the future was in his hands. Unfortunately, with a new company in Alexander's hands and an exaggerated amount of money, he ended up being accused of fraud.

Antonio Meucci died without justice favoring him, while his antagonist added more and more achievements and claimed the title of inventor of the telephone for 113 years until in 2002, the United States Congress passed resolution 269, which concluded that "the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, as well as his work in the invention of the telephone", Meucci's name finally went down in history as the true inventor of the telephone, and although it was late for him, we were able to know the truth behind his legacy.

By José Francisco Estrada Vázquez