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This Day In History: Speech Transmitted by Telephone
jab684@cornell.edu
| March 10, 2014
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It seems like almost every pre-teen and teenager has a cell phone these days. But back in my day... Well, nothing compares to back in the day on March 10th, 1876 when the first discernable speech was transmitted over the telephone!

We've all heard about Alexander Graham Bell and his main contribution to modern society, the invention of the telephone. But did you know that his first invention was at age 12? It only got better from there... 

Alexander Graham Bell was trained in the family business of speech correction and became a voice teacher as a teenager. He opened his own school in 1871 for training teachers of the deaf and even became a professor of vocal physiology at Boston University in 1873!

But Bell was continually fascinated by sound waves and was confident that sound could be transmitted over a telegraph-like system. With the help of his mechanic assistant, Thomas Watson, he designed a device to transmit speech vibrations electrically between two receivers. In 1875 he tested it and although no intelligible words were transmitted, sounds resembling speech were heard on the other end.

He quickly filed a patent in February 1876, edging out another American inventor, Elisha Gray, who filed a similar patent for a telephone transmitter just hours later. Since Bell submitted his first, he was awarded the patent on March 7th. Just three days later, on March 10th, he successfully tested his telephone by summoning his assistant to the next room, saying "Mr. Watson, come here. I need you."

It's pretty incredible to think about how telephones has evolved from not even being able to transmit speech at all to the smartphones that almost everybody has currently! So today, take a moment to appreciate the man who gave you the iPhone that you can't live without, Alexander Graham Bell.  

Read more at History.com, and tune in to WVBR every weekday morning for Today in History!

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