Antonio Meucci

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Inventors and Inventions

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Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci (1808–1889) was an Italian inventor and also a friend and associate of the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. Meucci is best known for developing a voice-communication apparatus which several sources credit as the first telephone.

Antonio Meucci

Meucci set up a form of voice-communication link in his Staten Island, New York, home that connected its second-floor bedroom to his laboratory. He submitted a patent caveat for his telephonic device to the U.S. Patent Office in 1871, but there was no mention of electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound in his caveat. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound by undulatory electric current.

There has been much dispute over who deserves recognition as the first inventor of the telephone, although Bell was credited with being the first to transmit articulate speech by undulatory currents of electricity. The Federazione Italiana di Elettrotecnica has devoted a museum to Meucci making a chronology of his inventing the telephone and tracing the history of the two trials opposing Meucci and Bell. They support the claim that Antonio Meucci was the real inventor of the telephone. However, some scholars outside Italy do not recognize the claims that Meucci's device had any bearing on the development of the telephone. Tomas Farley also writes that, "Nearly every scholar agrees that Bell and Watson were the first to transmit intelligible speech by electrical means. Others transmitted a sound or a click or a buzz but our boys [Bell and Watson] were the first to transmit speech one could understand. 2002 congressional resolution In 2002, on the initiative of U.S. Representative Vito Fossella (R-NY), in cooperation with an Italian-American deputation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed United States HRes. 269 on Antonio Meucci stating "that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged." Within its preamble it stated that: "if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell." The resolution's sponsor described it as "a message that rings loud and clear recognizing the true inventor of the telephone, Antonio Meucci." In 2002 some news articles reported: "the resolution said his "telettrofono", demonstrated in New York in 1860, made him the inventor of the telephone in the place of Bell, who took out a patent 16 years later." A similar resolution was introduced to the U.S. Senate but no vote was held on the resolution. Some[who?] have disagreed with the House of Representatives resolution. The Government of Canada responded ten days later by unanimously passing a parliamentary motion stating that Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the telephone.[63][64] Others,[who?] believe House Resolution 269 redressed a historic injustice, and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica hailed the vote to recognise Meucci as a belated comeuppance for Bell.

Invention of the telephone

Garibaldi–Meucci Museum

The Order of the Sons of Italy in America maintains a Garibaldi–Meucci Museum on Staten Island. The museum is located in a house that was built in 1840, purchased by Meucci in 1850, and rented to Giuseppe Garibaldi from 1850 to 1854. Exhibits include Meucci’s models and drawing and pictures relating to his life.


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