Antonio Meucci, Inventor of the Telephone:
Unearthing the Legal and Scientific Proofs


Lecture at the Casa Italiana of the New York University, 10 October 2000, 7:00 pm



Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you for being here. I have done research on Meucci since I retired, in November 1989, for eleven years now. Before that, I have done research in telecommunications for about forty years. However, I did not confine my research on Antonio Meucci to mere scientific aspects. In fact, I soon realized that it was necessary to consider the larger cultural environment in the three areas where Meucci lived, i.e. Florence, Havana and New York, as well as its evolution during the nineteenth century.

At the beginning of my research, I found in the available literature many contradictions, misinterpretations and mistakes on Antonio Meucci. Therefore, I decided not to rely on second-hand information but to begin my research from scratch, i.e. based on original documents. To this end, I searched with great care many archives in Italy, Cuba and United States.

I could fix a number of dates, places, names and occurrences, such as the exact dates of Meucci's transfer from Florence to Havana and from Havana to New York, which occurred 150 years ago. I decided to write a book, supporting any statement with the quotation or the reproduction of the original document. Of course, it turned out to be very big, as you can see from my first two volumes here.

My presentation of today will deal with a few topics connected with Meucci's priority in the invention of the telephone. I will follow the order in which my research progressed, i.e. : The Bell vs. Globe Trial; The US vs. Bell Trial; The Scientific Proofs.


The Bell vs. Globe trial

You know already that the Bell people use to publicize Judge Wallace's decision issued in New York on 19 July 1887, which ruled in favor of Bell and against the Globe Telephone Company and Meucci for patent infringement. The records of this trial are available from several sources. In particular, the Deposition of Antonio Meucci is available in print in many public libraries, such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. Therefore, anyone can read how the Bell lawyers defeated the Globe Company and Meucci.

The Bell people, however, forget to say that, long before the Bell Company had sued the Globe Company and Meucci for patent infringement, the US Government had sued the Bell Company and Graham Bell for fraud, collusion and deception in their obtainment. Moreover, the US Government set out to prove that Meucci -- not Bell -- had discovered the electromagnetic telephone and that the German Philipp Reis had discovered the variable resistance transmitter, later called "microphone." In other words, whereas in New York the Bell Company claimed that Bell, not Meucci, was the inventor of the telephone, in Washington the Government claimed the opposite. Here is a brief chronology of what had happened in Washington, before the commencement of the Bell vs. Globe trial:

Two months afterwards, the Secretary wrote to the Solicitor General recommending the institution of a suit against Graham Bell and the Bell Company, in the name and on behalf of the Government of the United States. He accompanied his letter with all reports, arguments and exhibits put ahead at the hearings.

Now, while the Secretary was holding said hearings, the Bell Company filed its bill of complaint against the Globe Company and Meucci in the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Wallace, who had already ruled four times in favor of Bell for patent infringement in other cases, presided over this court. It was, therefore, evident that the Bell move was more a maneuver to counteract the attack of the Government, than to sue the Globe Company for an (otherwise non-existent) infringement, as claimed in their bill. The Bell Company was confident to win quickly in New York, also to create a situation of res adjudicata in an eventual trial with the Government and to hamper the action in favor of Meucci in Washington. The Secretary negatively commented the Bell move in New York, as we will see shortly. In addition, Dr. Seth R. Beckwith, general manager of the Globe Company, publicly deplored the Bell move, during his conclusive argument before the Secretary, as follows:

Dr. Beckwith's argument

During this hearing it [the Bell Company] has shown disrespect to your Honors, for on the 3d day of your sitting a suit has been entered against Antonio Meucci.

Meucci's Answer to Bill of Complaint

. . . . That . . . . in the recent proceedings before the Interior Department . . . . the complainants had read and knew the fact that the deponent was the original inventor . . . .
And further . . . . it was expressly stated that no attempt to introduce said Meucci's inventions into public use would be made until the priority, utility, and practicability of his invention had been fully established by law. . . . .

 Furthermore, Meucci, in his answer to the Bill of Complaint filed by the Bell Company in New York, remarked that the scheme by the Bell Company was shaped after the hearings in Washington, as shown above.

The trial in New York against Globe and Meucci went on swiftly, as expected by the Bell Company, and it came to a decision in about one and a half years. On the contrary, the action of the Government, hampered by the obstructionism of the Bell lawyers, dragged for twelve years, up to the end of 1897, when it was discontinued -- without setting the underlying question of who had priority to the invention of the telephone. Moreover, the record of this trial was never printed and is now only available, with difficulty, from the National Archives, mostly in typescript or manuscript, and spread among different record groups and cities.

We must point out that, in the Bell vs. Globe trial, the counsel for Globe, David Humphreys, unlearned on the technical side, provided a poor defense to Meucci. He filed only nine out of the about fifty affidavits that were exhibited in favor of Meucci and elucidated by Dr. Beckwith in Washington, before the Interior Secretary. Mr. Humphreys' main concern was to prove that Globe did not infringe the Bell patents, not having sold nor operated any telephones. In his final argument before Judge Wallace, Mr. Humphreys did not insist on Meucci's priority, unlike Dr. Beckwith, who often objected. Judge Wallace, in his decision, punctually remarked the lack of commitment by the Globe Company in favor of Meucci, as opposed to Dr. Beckwith's "great zeal." Here are his precise words:

. . . The defense, so far as it rests upon the priority of invention by Meucci, may be briefly disposed of. The circumstance that this defense is not relied upon by the Globe Company in its answer, and that its counsel has insisted in his argument that it should not be considered because not satisfactorily presented by the proofs, although indicating that the principal defendant has no confidence in the asserted priority of invention by Meucci, ought not to prejudice the position of the defendant Beckwith, who relies upon this defense, has urged it with great zeal, and is evidently convinced of its truth . . . .

Notwithstanding this lack of commitment by Globe, Judge Wallace could not ignore the many witnesses that had testified to have successfully spoken through various Meucci's telephones. He thus resorted to a trick that had worked well in another patent infringement case, the Drawbaugh case, that he had decided three years before. The trick was to dispose of all such witnesses by ruling that the spoken words that they had heard were from a string telephone, not an electric telephone. As you know, the "string telephone" is a toy used by kids to talk with the aid of two cans and a rope or wire pulled stout between the cans. By ruling that way, Judge Wallace also discredited Meucci as having fooled himself, adding insult to injury. This is the relevant passage of his decision:

. . . There is no reason to doubt that for many years prior to 1865, and from that year until he applied for the caveat, he had been experimenting with telephonic and electrical apparatus with a view of transmitting speech, and during this time had convinced himself that he had made interesting discoveries, which might eventually become useful ones. To this extent he is corroborated by the testimony of a number of witnesses. But the proofs fail to show that he had reached any practical result beyond that of conveying speech mechanically by means of a wire telephone. . . . .

The thesis of Meucci's telephone being a string telephone was advanced in a previous affidavit sworn by one Prof. Charles R. Cross from MIT -- incidentally, a good friend of Bell. Prof. Cross stated that he had carefully studied Meucci's deposition, in order to reproduce faithfully Meucci's layouts in his Physics Laboratory. However, I discovered that Prof. Cross had omitted to mention in his affidavit a reel of wire that Meucci always inserted in circuit to simulate a long distance. There are three drawings and five different answers in Meucci's deposition where this reel of wire was clearly shown or quoted. Therefore, Prof. Cross may have purposely omitted it. If he had inserted a reel of wire in his layout, the sound could by no means mechanically traverse the same and reach the receiver. It could only be electrically transmitted. If any expert would have raised that objection, Prof. Cross and Judge Wallace's thesis of the string telephone would fall to pieces. Globe, of course, being short of money or short of interest on this subject, did not call any expert to counteract Prof. Cross's affidavit, thus facilitating Judge Wallace's chore.

Another obstacle to be surmounted by the Bell lawyers, and then by Judge Wallace, was Meucci's caveat "Sound Telegraph." This caveat was filed in the Patent Office on 28 December 1871, many years before the first Bell patent. Though having expired on December 1874, Meucci not being able any more to pay the $10 annual fee, it was a clear and convincing proof of Meucci's priority of invention. Prof. Cross testified that the caveat "plainly and well describes what is known as a lover's telegraph or string telephone." This time, however, the Globe Company called as their witness Thomas Stetson, the patent lawyer who had prepared Meucci's caveat. But here comes the funny thing: Mr. Stetson's testimony was largely in line with Prof. Cross's. This completely upset Meucci's claims, since Mr. Stetson had released an affidavit, five years before, which was a paean for Meucci as the true inventor of the telephone.

I took the trouble of comparing Mr. Stetson's affidavit of July 1880 with his testimony, rendered between December 1885 and January 1886. As shown below, his testimony was in sharp contrast with his affidavit and constituted a hard blow on Meucci defense. The few sentences reported here below give you only a faint idea of what can be termed, without hesitation, "Mr. Stetson's volte-face."

Stetson's affidavit of 21 July 1880

. . . . I acted as his patent attorney . . . . to caveat in the United States Patent Office Mr. Meucci's invention of what is now known as the telephone; and that from his verbal explanation and the description contained in the caveat I verily believe him to be the first and original inventor thereof. . . . .

Stetson's testimony of 24 December 1885

. . . . I sincerely believe that he [Meucci] did not communicate to me the idea of a battery or batteries in connection with the insulated wire or wires. Also that he did not communicate to me any idea of a ground connection, or of diaphragms, or of permanent magnets, or electro-magnets, or adjustments. . . . . This wire was adapted to conduct sound on the principle which is now sometimes called The Lover's Telephone. . . . .

Of course, Mr. Stetson's statements could have been disproved by the written description that Meucci had handed to him to prepare the caveat. But Mr. Stetson testified that he had lost it, together with some important letters on the same subject that Meucci had written to him. He also testified that he did not remember any drawing illustrating Meucci's invention and accompanying Meucci's description. Conversely, he exhibited a mysterious letter -- that he said he had dictated but not sent to the Globe Company -- containing his (quite recent) detraction of Meucci's caveat. He thus enabled Judge Wallace to rule that Meucci's pretensions "are overthrown by his own description of the invention at a time when he deemed it in a condition to patent, and by the evidence of Mr. Stetson."

Here is what happened with some other witnesses in (or connected with) the Bell vs. Globe trial:

  1. The Secretary of the Globe Company, though being one of the defendants, testified for the Bell Company.
  2. A potential witness for Meucci, Edward B. Grant, Vice President of the American District Telegraph Company, died suddenly of heart attack on 7 October 1884. Meucci had repeatedly asked him, from 1872 to 1874, to test his telephones on the company's lines and left with him documents and prototypes. Shortly before his death, Mr. Grant had told one Mr. Bertolino, a friend of Meucci, that he had found supporters for Meucci's invention. Moreover, his death propitiously occurred one day after the ex superintendent of the company had offered his services to the Bell Company. One month later he was hired by the Bell Company, and appointed Vice President and General Manager of their Missouri Branch. He then testified against Meucci, distorting the facts and calling Meucci "a crank."
  3. Domenico Mariani, a witness for the Globe Company and a good friend of Meucci since 1846, testified that, about one month before his testimony, he was offered $10,000 (about $200,000 of today) to return to Italy.
  4. Major Zenas Fisk Wilber, the Chief Examiner of the US Patent Office, who had examined both the Bell patents and Meucci's caveat, had released affidavits, between July and August 1885, alleging frauds in the grant of Bell patents.
  5. Two Italians, Frederico Garlanda and John Citarotto, testified for the Bell Company that they owned a quite complete collection of L'Eco d'Italia, an Italian newspaper of New York, running from 1857 down to 1881. However, they stated that their collection lacked the issues from 1 December 1860 to the whole 1863. We must recall that Meucci's invention was reported as having been published in L'Eco d'Italia between the end of 1860 and the beginning of 1861. If retrieved, it would have rendered null the Bell patents. That precious issue of L'Eco d'Italia that lacked from said collection, now lacks from all main libraries in the United States, whereas the files in the Office of L'Eco d'Italia had been destroyed by a mysterious fire.

All the above incidents greatly facilitated the decision by Judge Wallace. This notwithstanding, he added some negative statements of his own against Meucci. In fact, the closing paragraph of his decision read as follows:

. . . . The evidence leaves the impression that his speaking telegraph would never have been offered to the public as an invention if he had not been led by his necessities to trade on the credulity of his friends; that he intended to induce the three persons of small means and little business experience, who became his associates under the agreement of December 12, 1871, to invest in an invention which he would not offer to [knowledgeable] men . . . . ; and that this was done in the hope of obtaining such loans and assistance from them as he would temporarily require.

Of course, any Judge has the privilege of assigning his own weight to the evidence presented at trial; however, he chose to neglect the following evidence:

From all the above, we can appropriately conclude this first part of my presentation by recalling Giovanni Schiavo's definition of Judge Wallace's decision as:

. . . . unquestionably one of the most glaring miscarriages in the annals of American justice," as well as "one of the most dishonest legal decisions in the annals of America. It is not only dishonest, but also outrageously offensive.

We now go on to the second part of my contribution.


The US vs. Bell trial

The Globe Company and Meucci were very confident on the action of the Government in Washington and therefore thought that, in the end, it would render worthless the Bell vs. Globe trial in New York. This may explain in part the lack of commitment by the Globe Company in defense of Meucci's priority.

In fact, just when Meucci was ending his deposition in New York, the Interior Secretary in Washington was writing to the Solicitor General, recommending the institution of a suit against Graham Bell and the Bell Company. He attached to his letter three reports on the hearings, drafted by his two Assistant Secretaries and by the Commissioner of Patents, as well as all arguments and exhibits presented during the hearings. He stigmatized in his letter the inadequacy of private suits involving the Bell Company, like the one in New York, as follows:

. . . . It appears that many suits have been pending and many are now pending between the corporation claiming this patent and others that assail it. In none of these cases has there been or can there be, as I think, such thorough investigation and full adjudication as to the alleged frauds or mistakes occurring in the Patent Office in the issuance of the patent, as could be had in a proceeding instituted and carried on by the Government itself. . . . .
In my opinion the proceeding should be in the name of and wholly by the Government, not on the relation or for the benefit of all or any of the petitioners, but in the interest of the Government and the people, and wholly at the expense and under the conduct and control of the Government. . . . .


Please, note that the Secretary's recommendation was to investigate also on the behavior of the Patent Office, which was under his own administration, though the alleged frauds had happened nine years before his appointment.

Let me read you the following passages, taken from some of the attachments, as they reveal the essential role played by Meucci in determining the Secretary's recommendation to proceed against Bell.

We read in the report by Assistant Secretary Jenks:

. . . There is also evidence that as early as 1849, Antonio Meucci began experiments with electricity, with reference to the invention of a speaking telephone . . . . . Up to 1871, . . . . although much of the time very poor, he constructed several different instruments with which in his own house, he conversed with his wife, and others . . . . . His testimony is corroborated by his wife, and by affidavits of a very large number of witnesses. He claims that in 1872, he went to Mr. Grant, Vice President of the New York District Telegraph Company, explained his invention, and tried repeatedly to have it tried on the wires of the Company. This, it is claimed, was used by the telegraph company, and was the basis of the contract between the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Bell Telephone Company, dated November 10, 1879. . . . .

Let us now read two passages from the report by Assistant Secretary Muldrow:

. . . . So many witnesses having sworn that the inventions of Meucci, Reis, and others antedated those of Bell in the speaking telephone . . . . I therefore believe it to be the duty of the Government to judicially inquire whether these facts do not warrant the institution of a suit to cancel the patent of March 7,1876, which bears the seal of the Government, and which confers upon him a monopoly of the use of one of the forces of nature at the expense of whole communities. . . . .

Please note that Mr. Muldrow only quoted Antonio Meucci and Philipp Reis, not Elisha Gray, Amos Dolbear, Daniel Drawbaugh or any other of the scores of inventors that claimed to have preceded Bell.

Finally, from the argument made by the Globe lawyer before the Secretary of the Interior, I shall read some of the statements by the already mentioned Chief Examiner of the Patent Office who filed two more affidavits. Here are a few passages from them:

Wilber's affidavit of 10 October 1885

At the time, in December 1871, Antonio Meucci filed a caveat for "Sound Telegraphs," I was an assistant under Prof. B. S. Hedrick, principal examiner . . . . ; hence the Meucci caveat came under my charge at that time.
. . . . During 1876, the electrical department was under my charge as principal exam-iner, and I received . . . . the Bell application, which became U. S. Patent No. 174465 of March 7th, 1876, and the caveat of Elisha Gray . . . . . If this case had the usual course of suspension of the application been followed, Bell would never have received a patent, and had Mr. Meucci's caveat been renewed in 1875, no patent could have been issued to Bell.

Wilber's affidavit of 10 October 1885

. . . . From my experience in examining a vast number of electrical specifications, I have become familiar with the terms and nomenclature used and have found that the terms used by Reis and Meucci are expressed or meant by different later inventions under different names. I have noticed the "closed circuit" of Bell is the "continuous metallic conductor" of Meucci . . . . .

Wilber's affidavit of 7 November 1885

. . . . the prototypes of all speaking telephones (Reis and Meucci) . . . .

It must be kept in mind that these words came from the lips of a Chief Examiner of the Patent Office -- very skilled in the electrical art -- who considered Reis and Meucci as the originators of all electric telephones. However, if we take into account that the Reis transmitter was very difficult to operate, as it was conceived as a make-and-break device, we may gather that the main point of force of the Government's action was Antonio Meucci.

I have already pointed out in my introduction that the US vs. Bell trial dragged for twelve years, after which it was discontinued by consent, following expiration of Bell's patents in 1893. Before going on to the next topic, I wish to summarize the main events of this proceeding:

When Bell's second patent expired, on January 30, 1893, the Government prosecutor refused to close the trial following a motion by the Bell lawyers. He maintained that a decision on the case would provide a reference point for issues of fundamental importance to the Country. Unfortunately, though, he died in September 1896 and, with his death, the effort of the Government quickly lost impetus.

On November 30, 1897, a new Attorney General announced that for all effects and purposes, the lawsuit between the Government and American Bell was to be considered moot. The trial was thereupon discontinued without ever reaching the underlying issue of who had primacy to the telephone and entitlement to its patent(s).

In conclusion, the case was not decided. Consequently, the Bell Company could not claim, from the outcome of this trial, that Antonio Meucci was not the inventor of the telephone, or that it was Bell. It could only exult by the astuteness of its lawyers, who were able to defer so long the decision of the case, until the question of the patent(s) became moot when they expired.

Let me now go on to the third part of my contribution.


The scientific proofs

Among the exhibits at the hearings before the Secretary of the Interior, I found an affidavit, sworn on 28 September 1885 by Michael Lemmi, a friend and lawyer of Meucci, which greatly increased my assessment of Meucci's merits. At a first sight, it had seemed to me another translation into English of Meucci's laboratory notebook, known as Meucci's Memorandum Book, only limited to his telephonic experiments. I was a little suspicious because, when reading a former translation of the same, which was made and exhibited at the Bell vs. Globe trial by the Globe Company, I could hardly understand it.

However, I soon realized that Lemmi's translation was far better than Globe's. Moreover, Lemmi, unlike Globe, included in his translation the reproduction of all Meucci's original drawings accompanying his notes. None of these was exhibited in the first trial. In this slide you can see one of these drawings, attached to Meucci's note dated 27 September 1870.

Meucci's drawing dated 27 September 1870, as reported in Lemmi's affidavit

You need not to be an engineer to understand that layout no. 1 represents a long distance telephone link with a ground return. Note the label "long distance" and the schematized electromagnetic telephones at both ends of the line. You may also note that layouts no. 2 and no. 3 differ from no. 1 by the insertion midway of a coil, with either a horseshoe core (layout no. 2) or a cylindrical core (layout no. 3). Telecommunication engineers know very well the technique illustrated in these two layouts. It is called the "inductive loading" of telephone lines and it allows to greatly increase the maximum distance as well as to improve the quality of speech. This technique, however, is generally attributed to Michael Idvorsky Pupin, an American of Yugoslav origin, who patented it in 1900. He then sold his two patents to the Bell Company, who successfully applied this technique in its lines for many decades. I was profoundly astonished to see that Meucci had discovered it in 1870.

My stupefaction, however, increased when I read in Lemmi's translation of Meucci's notebook an entry, dated 20 May 1862: "At the midpoint of the wire, a strongly magnetized iron inside a coil. Do not need any battery at all, and is a good conductor of the sound." I could not believe it: Meucci had discovered the effectiveness of the inductive load since 1862, to the point that he could eliminate the battery! Thus, the main novelty in his experiment of 27 September 1870 was that shown in layout no. 4 of this drawing, where the inductive load was split into two parts, one before the transmitter and one after the receiver. We know well, today, that this contrivance allows to further improving the performance of the line, and, indeed, it was suggested by Pupin in his patents of 1900.

If anyone had any doubts about the invention of the telephone by Antonio Meucci, this affidavit by Michael Lemmi definitely dispels them. It not only proves that Meucci invented the telephone, but that he was well ahead of his times for what concerns the conception of the system. It disproves, once more, Judge Wallace's statement in the first trial of Meucci's telephones having either been string telephones or copied from Bell. In fact, whereas the inductor inserted midway along the line greatly improves the electrical transmission of speech, it would have worsened or hampered the mechanical transmission of the same, a fact Prof. Cross conveniently did not include in his testimony for Bell. Lemmi's affidavit also allows to reverse the thesis of Meucci having drawn his ideas from Bell, since he should have drawn the idea of the inductive load thirty-eight years before Bell was even aware of it. For much the same reason, Lemmi's affidavit also disproves Bell lawyers' allegation that Meucci's Memorandum Book was a forgery. On the contrary, it shows that this notebook contained valuable inventions that the Bell people could not even imagine at the time of the Bell vs. Globe trial or for many years following.

The retrieval of Lemmi's affidavit, in addition to being enlightening to me, also marked the beginning of a new phase of my research. I thought that I could further contribute to the cause of vindication of Antonio Meucci, by searching in the available documentation for any other statements or drawings that might conceal any of "not-yet-invented" techniques. In the affirmative, I was quite confident that I would find them free of manipulation by the Bell lawyers.

I was lucky in my endeavor, since I found four more techniques of that kind, which I deem of paramount importance. I have summarized them in the following table together with the aforementioned inductive loading.


Year(s) of introduction
by Antonio Meucci

Year(s) of introduction
by American Bell Telephone Co.

Anti-sidetone circuit


ca. 1900, 1918

Call signaling

(1854), 1871


Structure of the line conductor

1862, 1870, 1871

1878, 1881-1884

Inductive load of long-distance line

1862, 1870

ca. 1900

Quietness of the environment


1877, 1883

As you can see, Meucci discovered these techniques from six to forty-two years before the Bell Company. I am not going to explain these latter techniques in much detail. If you wish, you can read all details in my paper "Four Firsts in Telephony," of which you have here a few reprints. However, it may be worth examining another important drawing, made in 1858, that encompasses both the second and third technique in this table .

This drawing is known as the Corradi's drawing, because it was made by Nestore Corradi, a painter by profession, after a sketch made by Antonio Meucci. In this drawing, we notice two labels: "Line of several miles" and "electric current from the inductor pipe," which latter had always been a mystery to me until I got hold of Lemmi's affidavit. Thanks to it, I could easily understand that in this drawing Meucci implied that his long-distance line was inductively loaded.

Meucci's layout for long-distance communication ("Corradi's drawing," 1858)

In this drawing we see two persons, each holding two instruments, one for transmitting, the other for receiving speech. The user at the right end of the drawing is speaking, whereas the one at the left is listening. You may note that there is a complete separation of the two directions of transmission (indicated by arrows), unlike Meucci's previous layouts, in which he had inserted all four instruments in series in the same circuit. The present two-circuit layout was aimed to counteract the so-called "side-tone," that is, the hearing of the echo of the speaker's own voice in his own receiver, as well as any background noise picked up by his transmitter. This layout is known today as the "four-wire circuit" and it is one of the several anti side-tone circuits that the Bell Company was to adopt after the year 1900. You, as I, may be astonished that Meucci had conceived it 42 years before.

Another technique shown in this drawing is that of call signaling, that is required to alert the distant subscriber to an incoming call. Meucci conceived an effective and inexpensive method to accomplish this task. As is shown, he used a Morse key, attached to each end of the line, momentarily short-circuiting the local transmitter. In this way, strong pulses of current were sent along the line, and the distant receiver would emit intermittent ticks, much louder than the ordinary speech, thus alerting the distant user. Meucci's caveat specification of 1871 was fully consistent with this drawing, as it recited: "To call attention, the party at the other end of the line may be warned by an electric telegraph signal or a series of them." Incidentally, this and other sentences in the caveat unmistakably prove that the caveat specification was written having this drawing in front, contrary to Mr. Stetson's ambiguous testimony.

There was nothing said in the Bell patents on any method of call signaling, and no call signaling was provided in 1877 to the first Bell subscribers. They used to make the call by either thumping on the diaphragm with a pencil or by shouting into it, unlike the elegant solution suggested by Meucci since 1858. Meucci, unlike Bell, was well aware of the need of a call signaling. In fact, in 1854 he provided his wife with a means of signaling that she wanted to speak through the telephone link that he had established between her bedroom and his laboratory.

As for the structure of the telephone line, Meucci soon realized that the telephone signal was much more demanding than the telegraph signal. He, therefore, recommended for the telephone line a better material, such as copper instead of iron, a larger cross section of the wire, as well as a number of specific structures of the line conductor. In fact, in his caveat of 1871, Meucci stated: "I believe that some metals will serve better than others, but propose to try all kinds of metals. . . . . I believe it preferable to have the wire of larger area than that ordinarily employed in the electric telegraph . . . . ."

In addition, we find, in his Memorandum Book, a number of entries relating to his experiments to counteract what we now call the "skin effect." He suggested to chemically or electrochemically treat the conductor, in order to increase the conductivity of its outer layer. The first entry of this kind in Meucci's Memorandum Book dates 7 March 1862. He obtained, however, his best results on 17 August 1870, by subdividing the line wire into many smaller insulated wires with the same overall cross-section of the single wire, i.e. by using a plait of insulated copper wires. Today, you can buy a similar wire from many suppliers, such as RadioShack: it is called "Monster Speaker-Cable," as it features exceptionally good response at both low and high frequencies of the audio range. Meucci jotted down in his notebook on 17 August 1870, when he experimented with this wire: "by this means I have obtained a distance of about one mile."

As for the Bell Company, they went on using iron wires up to 1884, when they inaugurated their first copper line between New York and Boston. Therefore, once more, Meucci was ahead of times by at least thirteen years.

 The last technique of this table, quietness of the environment, is of paramount importance, also given the low efficiency of the electromagnetic transmitter and receiver of the time. Indeed, some of you may remember people shouting in the telephone soundproof booths of the past century. Again, the wording of the caveat is enlightening, as it recites:

 . . . . When my sound telegraph is in operation, the parties should remain alone in their re-spective rooms, and every practicable precaution should be taken to have the surroundings per-fectly quiet.

  On the Bell side, the need for a quiet environment was first recognized by Thomas Watson, the assistant of Bell, in 1877, six years after Meucci's 1871 caveat.

 From all the achievements shown in the above table, we can conclude that when, in 1871, Meucci had founded the Telettrofono Company and had filed his caveat, he had already invented everything that was needed to start a high-quality public service. This is why, in 1872, he asked the American District Telegraph Company to test his system on their lines. This is why he renewed his caveat up to December 1874. This is why, after Bell obtained his first patent because Meucci could no longer pay the fee to keep up his caveat, Meucci repeatedly claimed that the telephone was his invention, not Bell's.



As long as my research progressed, as I have concisely represented to you, Antonio Meucci's stature as a man of science has gradually risen in my mind to that of a giant. It is therefore imperative that his achievements be made known as broadly as possible in both the scientific and the legal fields. On my part, I have obtained a few recognitions, that, however, I consider insufficient to the scope.

In Italy, though the predisposition of the public towards Antonio Meucci is very good, there are still a number of Bell supporters. My many papers in the official magazine of the Italian Electrical Association (AEI) have substantially improved the situation, but not enough. AEI has a Virtual Historical Museum in Internet, where the "Meucci Hall" has been one of the first.

AEI Virtual Museum

Entrance to AEI Virtual Museum, linking to "Antonio Meucci Hall"

 In Europe, my already mentioned paper "Four Firsts in Telephony," invited by the European Transactions on Telecommunications, has introduced Meucci, otherwise unknown there. It is only a first step, of course.

In Havana, we have obtained a complete success (see Havana's Exhibition of 1999).

In the United States, there is still a marked hostility towards Meucci. I have only succeeded in publishing a two-page paper in Antenna, the telecommunication branch of Society for the History of Technology. The Smithsonian Institution appears more open, but there is still some effort to be done in order to improve their present attitude of "wait and see". In addition, I have recently drafted a dozen entries for the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Italian version, dealing with Meucci, Bell and the telephone. This ensued after an important decision by the Microsoft Corporation, following the praising words on Meucci pronounced by its president, Bill Gates a few years ago. I was told that my entries would also be considered for the US version of Encarta. If this will happen, it will be a great leap forward.

Finally, I have a put a dozen pages on Meucci (in English) on Internet, getting some responses from museums and some private visitors, now amounting to about 2000.

All this, however, is a drop in the ocean. I hope that young scientists will do more in the future, in order to bestow on Meucci the broad recognition that he deserves.

As for the legal actions, Hon. Massaro's commitment to bring greater light to the unprinted record of the US vs. Bell trial and the promotion of a Congressional Resolution acknowledging Meucci's priority is undoubtedly the way to go. I presume that much effort in this direction is required, as it has been and will be expended by the distinguished 150th Anniversary Antonio Meucci Memorial Committee, which has made possible my visit to New York.

It is comforting to all to be aware that this time we have solid arguments in both the legal and the scientific fields. In the end, the truth must prevail. Better, I should say, "we must win," because our cause is just, not only for the glory of Italy, who gave birth to one of its most illustrious sons, not only for the honor of the United States, of which Meucci was a worthy citizen. We must win for the dignity of mankind, which cannot afford to perpetuate so much an injustice, to pay tribute to the wrong person, for having greatly fostered the communication among peoples. Antonio Meucci is first to deserve that merit.

Thank you.


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