Monday, March 7, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1881


(JFK+50) One hundred and forty years ago today, March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell* was granted Patent #174,465 by the United States Patent Office on his..."method of and apparatus for, transmitting....sounds telegraphically by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air...." or, in short, the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell set up a laboratory and with the help of assistant Thomas A. Watson, who was "skilled in devising tools which improved the efficiency of various instruments," developed a prototype of the telephone.   

On March 10, 1876, Mr. Bell spoke the first words into the telephone which were heard in another room by his assistant.  It is believed that those first words spoken into a telephone transmitter were...

"Mr. Watson, come here, I need you."

Mr. Bell offered to sell his patent to Western Union Telegraph Company for a mere $100,000 but the company's president declined the offer saying the telephone was "just a toy."  Reportedly, he changed his mind two years later saying that he would be willing to pay $25 million for the patent.  By then, Bell had changed his mind about selling.

The Bell Telephone Company was founded in 1877 and by 1886, 150,000 people owned a telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell died at the age of 75 in 1922 of complications of diabetes.  Following his funeral service, every telephone in North America was silenced in his honor.

*Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was born in Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburg & University College in London.  His father, uncle and grandfather were elocutionists.

AGB moved to Canada in 1870 where he set up a workshop & did experiments with electricity and sound.  He also became a teacher of the deaf in Boston.


"More About Bell," American Experience, PBS,

Bell's Telephone Patent Drawing
March 7, 1876
NARA Image

Bell & His Telephone Transmitter