December 2, 2003

Bell 'did not invent telephone'

telephone.jpg According to an article in the BBC, "claims that a German scientist invented the telephone 15 years before Alexander Graham Bell are supported by evidence from newly surfaced archive papers.

Successful tests on a German device manufactured in 1863 were covered up to maintain the Bell's reputation, the previously unseen files have revealed.

They show the "Telephon", developed by German research scientist Philipp Reis, could transmit and receive speech.

It is alleged UK businessman Sir Frank Gill - chairman of Standard Telephones and Cables (STC) - was behind the cover-up.

The evidence is contained in files from the archives of the Science Museum in London, rediscovered in October by the museum's curator of communications, John Liffen.

Scottish-born US scientist Alexander Graham Bell is often credited with making the first transmission of speech from one point to another by electrical means in 1876.

But, as with so many of these "world firsts", there are competing claims. Researchers Antonio Meucci and Elisha Gray were also known to be working on speech transmission devices at the same time as Bell and Reis".

Fortunately, no such controversy seems to exist with regard to the father of the modern cell phone, Dr Martin Cooper. cf Cell Phone turns 30.

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