FROM: ANTONIO MEUCCI MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
CONTACT: THOMAS REDINGTON 212 926-1733
Crucial 1887 Trial Evidence Establishes Italy's
Antonio Meucci As Inventor of The Telephone
NEW YORK, NY. OCT. 10 -- The former head of Italy's Central Telephone Research Laboratories said newly-discovered evidence on file at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC confirms that Antonio Meucci is the rightful inventor of the telephone.
Up to now, it has been generally held that Alexander Graham Bell, the telephony icon in every American kid's science book, was the person to whom the communications world owed its deepest gratitude.
Professor Basilio Catania, recipient of the 1988 Eurotelecom and 1991 Marconi Prizes, said the new truths about the invention's ownership are contained in the record of an 1887 trial ordered by the US Government (United States v Bell Telephone Company [now AT&T NYSE: T] and Alexander Graham Bell) to strip Bell of his patents for fraud and misrepresentation.
The Bell Company's dilatory tactics stalled the trial for years, going beyond Meucci's death in 1889 and the expiration of Bell's patents in 1894. The underlying issue of who was entitled to the patents thus became legally moot and the trial was discontinued.
Full Presentation Tonight
Professor Catania will detail the compelling pieces of evidence discovered during the first modern-day review of the trial's record at a special presentation tonight at New York University.
"The data will end any remaining doubt that Meucci is in fact the telephone's inventor," said Professor Catania, a resident of Turin, Italy who has devoted the last 12 years to unearthing the legal and scientific proofs about the invention of the telephone.
According to Professor Catania, the trial record contains 50 affidavits and the exhibition of two dozen of Meucci's telephone models. One of the affidavits was the translation into English of Meucci's Memorandum Book where he had jotted down his notes on his various experiments on the telephone, as far back as 1862.
"A drawing in this affidavit unmistakably shows that Meucci had discovered the inductive loading of long distance telephone lines at least 30 years before the Bell Company," informs Professor Catania.
Following that startling disclosure, other "firsts" to be credited to Meucci were uncovered: the first call signaling system, the first anti-side tone circuit, the first measures to optimize the structure of telephone lines and to insure quietness of the environment.
According to Professor Catania, none of this evidence was available during an 1885 trial instituted against Meucci by Bell for patent infringement, the conclusion of which had heretofore been the major focus of the debate.
Professor Catania will present full details of his conclusions and evidence at 7:00 pm October 10, 2000 at New York University's Casa Italiana, 24 West 12th Street, New York, NY.
Article posted at Telcotimes
October 11, 2000
Who Invented the Telephone?
By Daniel Schulman
NEW YORK - October 12, 2000 - It's as if someone's just told me there's no such thing as gravity. My whole world's turned upside down. I'm floating away. Alexander Graham Bell not the inventor of the telephone? Well, maybe. History texts in the U.S. print that Bell was the inventor of the modern telephone, but many, including Professor Basilio Catania, an expert on telecommunications and recipient of the Eurotelecom and Marconi Prizes, would beg to differ.
Apparently Mrs. Ford, my third grade teacher, never heard of Antonio Meucci (mee-OOH-chee). She adhered strictly to the textbook. The American version goes something like this: On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, used the first version of what we now refer to as the telephone, which at the time was little more than a funnel, a cup of acid, and some copper wire. His immortal words, spoken to his assistant Thomas Watson, when using his invention for the first time: " Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." Five days earlier, on March 6, Bell had received the patent on his invention, even though speech had yet to be transmitted. In 1877 Bell Telephone Co. was born and began operations with only one full-time employee, Thomas Watson. More than a century and an anti-trust suit later, we still find ourselves at the mercy of the Bells, in its various forms.
Now the alternate version: Antonio Meucci, originally from Florence, Italy, accepted a job as a stage designer in Havana Cuba. There, he developed an early form of shock therapy for treating illness. One day while preparing to administer the treatment to a friend, he heard that friend talking in the next room over a piece of copper wire that ran between them. By 1849, Meucci developed the first telephone prototype -- nearly 27 years before Bell even filed for a patent. Over the next decade Meucci perfected the telephone, and in 1860 he demonstrated the instrument to prospective investors, but nothing ever came of the promises of backing he received after the presentation. When Meucci sought to patent his invention he was unable to afford the $250 fee. Instead, he registered a notice of intent in 1871, which he renewed each year until 1873. In 1887, a judge ruled against Meucci and Globe Telephone Company, who were attempting to use Meucci's version of the telephone, for patent infringement in favor of Bell's version. The rest is history.
Feeling quite lightheaded -- I had begun to wonder whether Edison had really invented the electric lamp, and definitely had my doubts about George Washington and the cherry tree -- I sought out Professor Catania at his hotel. The professor is 75, round featured, and jovial. His Italian accent is heavy, but when the talk turns to Meucci he speaks slowly, with an intense fixation on each word; when he talks, you listen.
In a recent lecture at the Casa Italiano of New York University, the Professor, who has been researching Meucci for the past 14 years, claimed that, "long before the Bell Company sued the Globe Company and Meucci for patent infringement, the US government sued the Bell Company and Graham Bell for fraud, collusion, and deception in their obtainment [of the telephone patent]." Catania contends that whereas the court case between Bell and the Globe Telephone Company concluded in a year and a half, the government case, obstructed by the Bell lawyers, went on for over twelve years; in 1897 the case was discontinued. "The case was not decided. 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 in the astuteness of their lawyers," said Catania.
Professor Catania also questions the validity of Bell's original patent. "This patent was entitled Improvement in Telegraphy, eighty-five percent of the description dealt with the telegraph multiplexer, and at that time the telegraph multiplexer was an extremely important subject. Western Union set up a prize of one million dollars for those who could multiply the capacity of the telegraph line. In that patent there was a clause which referred to the telephone, to the possibility of using the same principles of multiplexed telegraphy to transmit voice. The way in which [Bell] described his telephone in this first patent was wrong. A telephone that was built [using the description] in this first patent would never work." The professor admits that the second patent, granted in early 1877, was more on target, but at that point Bell lawyers had already used clauses from the first patent to gain the primary rights to the technology.
The Professor's proof comes in an affidavit that dates back to 1885 by Michael Lemmi, Meucci's friend and lawyer, which was an English translation of Meucci's laboratory notebook, but a different translation than the one used in the Bell vs. Globe trial. "I was a little suspicious because when reading a former translation … which was made and exhibited at the Bell vs. Globe trial… I could hardly understand it. Lemmi included in his translation the reproduction of Meucci's original drawings. None of these were exhibited in the first trial," said Professor Catania. According to the professor, the drawings are dated September 27, 1870. One drawing, which the professor displayed during his lecture, represents a long distance telephone link with a ground return. Another layout outlines an early form of "inductive loading," which was patented in 1900 by Michael Idvorsky Pupin, who later sold his patents to the Bell Company. "I was profoundly astonished to see that Meucci had discovered it in 1870. I couldn't believe it: Meucci had discovered the effectiveness of the inductive load to the point that he could eliminate the battery!"
Ultimately, Professor Catania is seeking "a moral vindication" for Meucci's work. "We have a history of the telephone which is 125 years old. For 125 years in the United States, Alexander Graham Bell is the only one, the inventor of the telephone. Much remains to be done to change this, in the schools, and the universities, and in the museums. There's a lot to be done."
Some say that history makes the best fiction of all. Professor Catania has his own interesting outlook on history: "I say that if a 125 years have elapsed, we [may] need another 125 years to reverse the situation."
Published by CLECNEWS, Inc. 509 Madison Ave. Suite 1111 New York, NY 10022 Phone: (212) 980-8623 Fax: (212) 980-8627
Courtesy of Staten Island Live and the Staten Island Advance
Who invented the
telephone? New evidence
predating Bell is detailed in
19th century trial documents
October 11, 2000
By FRANK WILLIAMS and MIKE
ADVANCE STAFF WRITERS
Many Staten Islanders have insisted over the years that one of our own, Antonio Meucci, is the true inventor of the telephone.
Well, roll over in your grave, Mr. Bell. Newly discovered evidence has proven us right.
Recent scholarship confirms that the Italian-American Meucci, who lived in Rosebank, invented the technology at least 30 years before the famous Alexander Graham Bell.
The evidence comes from the former head of Italy's Central Telephone Research Laboratories, who studied documents on file at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.
Meucci conducted electrical sound experiments on the Island from 1850 until his death in 1889.
Professor Basilio Catania, recipient of the 1988 Eurotelecom and 1991 Marconi Prizes, said the new truths about the invention's ownership are contained in the record of an 1887 trial (United States vs. Bell Telephone Company and Alexander Graham Bell), in which the government unsuccessfully sought to strip Bell of his patents for fraud and misrepresentation.
"It is comforting to all to be aware that this time we have solid arguments in both legal and the scientific facts. In the end, the truth must prevail," said Catania, during a lecture last night in New York University's Casa Italiana, presented by the 150th Anniversary Antonio Meucci Memorial Committee.
"Our cause is just, not only for the glory of Italy, who gave birth to one 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," said Catania to more than 50 audience members.
The Bell Company's tactics stalled the trial for years, and the case went beyond Meucci's death in 1889 and the expiration of Bell's patents in 1894. The underlying issue of who was entitled to the patents thus became legally moot and the trial was discontinued.
According to the professor, the trial record contains 50 affidavits and the exhibition of two dozen of Meucci's telephone models. One of the affidavits was the translation into English of Meucci's memoranda book, where he jotted his notes on various experiments on the telephone as far back as 1862.
"A drawing in this affidavit unmistakably shows that Meucci had discovered the inductive loading of long distance telephone lines at least 30 years before the Bell Company," said the professor.
Following that startling disclosure, other "firsts" to be credited to Meucci were uncovered: the first call signaling system, the first anti-side tone circuit, the first measures to optimize the structure of telephone lines and to ensure quietness of the environment.
None of this evidence was available during another trial in 1885, when Bell sued Meucci for patent infringement and won. This case's conclusion has until now been the major focus of the Bell-Meucci debate, according to Catania.
Earlier in the day, news of the newly discovered evidence was greeted warmly by Anne Covella Alarcon of New Brighton, curator/director of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Rosebank, where the inventor lived in the second half of the 19th century
But she did not appear surprised. "Little by little things have been coming out," said Ms. Alarcon, a Mariners Harbor native who took over as head of the museum in June 1997. "There was a real conspiracy, but it's fortunate the evidence was not destroyed."
Standing next to a first-floor display case showing a portrait of Meucci as well as a "death mask" of the ill-fated genius, Ms. Alarcon said she knew from childhood that the native of San Frediano, Italy, was the true inventor of the telephone.
Her father, Charles, is a retired lineman for the former New York Telephone Co. When she was a child, each time the family was out for a Sunday drive and passed the museum, she said, "my father would point to the Meucci monument and say 'See, he's the real inventor of the telephone.' "
Normally at this time of year, the museum would have been playing host to schoolchildren but because of ongoing renovations, Ms. Alarcon said, the education program has been delayed a week. She said that last year, the museum, which is operated by the Order of the Sons of Italy, served more than 70,000 people.
The house is also where Meucci provided shelter for the Italian revolutionary, Giuseppe Garibaldi, for a few years.
Ms. Alarcon, who attended the NYU presentation last night, was well aware of the work being done by Catania. She said the professor has produced new evidence in support of Meucci's claim for years. He has devoted the last 12 years to unearthing legal and scientific proof about the invention of the telephone.
The investigation of Meucci's role in the invention of the telephone was aided by Republican Rep. Vito Fossella. He supplied the organizers of yesterday's event with 70 pages of federal documents on the matter, including studies, legal records and telephone company reports filed with the federal government.
"We are glad to lend a hand to shed light on Mr. Meucci's contribution to the invention of the telephone," said Fossella in a statement yesterday. "After many years of being a footnote to history, his great work is at last starting to be acknowledged."
(ADVANCE STAFF WRITER Terence Kivlan contributed to this report. Associated Press material also was used.)
Res. No. 1566
Resolution calling upon the United States Congress to acknowledge the primacy of Antonio Meucci in the invention of the telephone and declare his moral vindication for this great achievement in the service of science and all mankind.
By The Speaker (Council Member Vallone)
Whereas, One hundred and fifty years ago, the great Italian inventor Antonio Meucci arrived in New York City and embarked on the defining chapter of a career both extraordinary and tragic; and
Whereas, Absorbed in a project that he began in Havana, an invention that he later called a "telettrofono," involving electrical communications, Antonio Meucci immediately began to pursue his aspirations with ceaseless vigor and determination; and
Whereas, Mr. Meucci resumed the experiments he began in Havana in his new home in New York, communicating with his wife via a rudimentary electronic line that went from the basement to the first floor; later when his wife began to suffer with crippling arthritis, he put up a permanent line between his lab and his wife's bedroom; and
Whereas, Having exhausted most of his life's savings in pursuing his work, Antonio Meucci was unable to construct a model for his invention, though he demonstrated his instrument in 1860 and had a description published in a New York Italian-language newspaper; while he eventually became a proud American citizen, the inventor never learned English, making his path in the American business community more trying; and
Whereas, Antonio Meucci was unable to raise funds to pay his way through the long, labyrinthine patent application process and was forced to settle for a caveat, a one-year notice of an impending patent only to learn that the Western Union affiliate laboratory had lost his models and Meucci, who at this point was living on public assistance was forced to allow the caveat to lapse at the end of 1874; and
Whereas, In March, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, who performed experiments in the same laboratory that Meucci used, and where his materials were stored, was granted a patent and was, of course, credited with inventing the telephone; and
Whereas, It should be recalled that if Antonio Meucci could have paid the ten-dollar fee to maintain his caveat, that the Bell patent could not have been granted; and
Whereas, In January, 1887, the Government of the United States moved to annul the patent issued to Alexander Graham Bell for fraud and misrepresentation; the case was found meritorious and viable by the United States Supreme Court, which refused to uphold a dismissal, and remanded the case to a lower court; and
Whereas, Antonio Meucci died in 1889, and the Bell patent was to expire in 1893, causing the case to be discontinued as moot without a resolution ever being reached as to the underlying issue of who invented the telephone; and
Whereas, The Secretary of State of the United States had, at the time of the dispute, stated publicly that "there exists sufficient proof to give priority to Meucci in the invention of the telephone;" and
Whereas, The Council of the City of New York has not forgotten Antonio Meucci's great contributions to science and to humankind, and to the end of preserving his legacy, has by proclamation declared May 1, 2000 to be "Antonio Meucci Day;" now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon United States Congress to acknowledge the primacy of Antonio Meucci in the invention of the telephone and declare his moral vindication for this great achievement in the service of science and all mankind.
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