150th Anniversary of the
Discovery of the Electrical Transmission of the Human Voice by
Antonio Meucci, 1849-1999
in the frame of
THE WEEK OF THE ITALIAN CULTURE
Havana, 19-25 November
SECTION 3 "CRONOLOGÍA MÍNIMA"
All information reported below is
taken from the book
by Basilio Catania Antonio Meucci - L'inventore e il suo
tempo (Antonio Meucci - The
Inventor and His Times).
The chronology reported below only
refers to events concerning the life of Antonio Meucci and his wife.
Other chronologies regarding his many inventions, and particularly
the telephone, will be reported elsewhere.
Panel E1 - In Florence
- Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci was born in Florence on
13 April 1808.
- He was admitted to the "Accademia di Belle Arti" on
27 November 1821, and remained in the Academy six years,
following the schools of Chemistry and Mechanics, the
latter encompassing all of the known physics of the
- From 1823 to 1830 he was employed as customs officer
at the gates of Florence.
- In October 1833, he was hired at the renowned Teatro
della Pergola, as assistant chief mechanician. In 1834,
he set up an acoustic-pipe telephone (still existing
today) to allow communicating from the stage to the
- In 1833-1834, he was involved in the conspiracies for
the liberation of Italy, and served many months in jail
with the famous patriot F. D. Guerrazzi.
- On 7 August 1834, he married Esther Mochi, a costumer
in the Pergola's tailor shop.
- On 7 October 1835, having accepted the job of chief
engineer, and his wife Esther the job of chief costumer,
in the magnificent Gran Teatro de
Tacón of Havana, they embarked in Leghorn on
the brig "Coccodrillo" with 81 members of the Italian
Opera Company. They arrived in Havana on 17 December
Florence's Duomo and
Panel E2 - In Havana
The Tacón Theater in 1868. Notice, at
the left of the theater, the two-story apartment building and the
protruding low building, accommodating the theater
- On 12 January 1836, the Italian Opera Company debuts at the
Teatro Principal. Shortly after, Meucci solves the problem
of purifying, by chemical processing, the water supplied to the
city of Havana.
- On 15 April 1838, the Gran Teatro de Tacón is
inaugurated. The Meuccis move to an apartment adjacent to the
theater (see figure above).
- In 1844, having obtained a four-year contract from the
Governor to galvanize supplies for the army, Meucci sets up the
first electroplating factory of the Americas. In the same year,
his family is blessed by the birth of a girl.
- On 16 December 1844, an evening in honor of Antonio Meucci is
held at the Gran Teatro de Tacón.
- On 18 April 1847, Meucci is entrusted with the reconstruction
of the theater, which was severely damaged by an unusually strong
hurricane. He designs a new ventilation system to avoid the roof
being taken off again.
- In 1848, Meucci sends money to Garibaldi, to help Italy's
- In 1849, Meucci performs experiments on electrotherapy. While
administering electrotherapy to a patient, he discovers the
transmission of speech by electricity.
- In 1850, having expired their contract
with the Cuban impresario, Don Francisco Marty y Torrens, the
Italian Opera Company leaves Havana for the USA. The Meuccis,
following the death of their child, embarked on the brig
Norma on 23 April 1850 and arrived in New York on 1 May
1850. They brought with them about 26,000 pesos fuertes,
equivalent to some $ 500,000 of today.
Panel E3 - In Clifton
Meucci's cottage in 1890, one year after his
- In early October, 1850, the Meuccis went to live in a cottage
on Forest Street (now Ditson Street), in Clifton (Staten Island),
NY. The cottage and the adjacent land were later purchased by
Meucci. Gen. Garibaldi and other Italian exiles were hosted and
helped by him.
- In 1854, Meucci's wife, Esther, aggravated her rheumatoid
arthritis, to the point that she could seldom leave her bedroom.
Meucci set up a telephone link between her room and his work
places, where he tried many different instruments.
- In 1861, victim of dishonest speculators, he lost his house
and all his money. From then on, he would always live in destitute
- In 1866, in the imminence of the third independence war of
Italy, he was appointed president of a committee in New York, to
form a military corps of volunteers to fight in Italy.
- On 30 July 1871, he was heavily scalded during the explosion
of the boiler of the Staten Island ferry Westfield and
remained three months in despair of his life. He lost his job and,
thereupon, was bound to live on the charity of his friends.
- From 1878 to 1880 the overseers of the poor of the county
helped him with small sums of money and goods for his necessities
- On 21 December 1884, his wife, Esther, passed away.
- On 18 October, 1889, Antonio Meucci died in his cottage, at
the age of 81.
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Date last modified: 7 May 2003
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