Alexander Graham Bell Did Not Actually Invent The Telephone

Alexander Graham Bell Did Not Actually Invent The Telephone

After watching an eye-opening episode of Drunk History, I decided to do a little exposé of my own.
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Sometimes it seems like history is a giant game of telephone because a lot of it has been misconstrued. For example, in elementary school, I learned a song about Christopher Columbus discovering America.

Unfortunately, in middle school I learned that Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, the Vikings did. In fact, the Viking ship, led by explorer Leif Erickson, could have arrived 500 years earlier than Columbus.


So, just like that, my mind had to completely rewrite a historical fact, which I had considered to be a given. And, a couple of months ago, it had to do it again.

I was watching an episode of Drunk History, a pretty self-explanatory television show where historians get hammered and (try to) retell historical events.

In that episode, called Inventors, the historian decided to destroy anything I’ve ever known about Alexander Graham Bell, and declare that he actually stole his ideas from another inventor named Elisha Gray.

When presented with this newfound information, I figured I’d better do my research instead of believing the first source I came upon. So, like any good researcher, I turned to Google:

Ah! No mention of poor Elisha Gray, but there was this mystery man named Antonio Meucci. I decided to search him up next. And, to put it lightly, Meucci had a tough life. Meucci was born in Florence, Italy, and began testing early telephone models there. When he and his wife moved to the United States, he was on the Staten Island ferry explosion and received bad burns. While recovering, he discovered his wife had sold everything in his lab for $6.

But Meucci didn’t give up easily, and he improved his prototypes. Because he didn’t have enough money to buy a full patent, he filed a caveat. But, a year later, he didn’t even have the $10 to renew it.

He sent his model and technical details to the Western Union Telegraph company (whose executives were friends and colleagues with Bell), but they never gave him a meeting, and then claimed they lost all of his stuff. Two years later, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent for the telephone and became a celebrity. Meucci sued and was close to winning when he died.

The one upside to this story is that in 2002, Congress acknowledged Meucci as the inventor of the telephone. But, just like many artists, Meucci is not alive to appreciate the recognition of his work.

But this still doesn’t answer the question, what about Elisha Gray? Well, I did some more research, and it turns out that he and Bell submitted their inventions simultaneously. On February 14, 1876, Gray filed a caveat. The same day, Bell submitted a patent application.

Because Bell’s patent was submitted a few hours before Gray’s, he was recognized as the first inventor of the telephone. Sounds like a simple conclusion, but it isn’t over yet; many believe that there was some fraud in the patent office, and even by Bell, to make it seem like Bell was first.

Additionally, when Bell’s notebooks were finally published in 1999, there were a couple of things that didn’t add up. For a while, Bell was attempting to create the telephone using electromagnetic sound transmission. But suddenly, on March 8th, 1876, he switched to liquid transmission, and two days later, he made the first ever telephone call.

Coincidentally, right before the switch, he’d visited the patent office for 12 days. To top it off, Elisha Gray’s caveat included liquid transmission.

And if you still aren’t convinced that this entire situation isn’t sketchy, on May 22, 1886, a former Washington patent examiner named Zenas F. Wilber swore in an affidavit that Alexander Graham Bell had bribed him to award him the patent for the telephone over Gray, and even give him a peek at Gray’s caveat.

So, in the end, both Elisha Gray and Antonio Meucci deserved the patent just as much as Alexander Graham Bell did. And after my long and difficult Google investigation, I felt a little let down if I’m going to be honest.

It isn’t as if I used to sit around all day and daydream about Alexander Graham Bell, but it’s always a little weird to find out that a historical person that you’ve always respected turns out to be an asshole.

We have a weird relationship with our historical figures, in that many of them tend to be idolized. We forget that they’re people who, while still doing fantastic things for humanity, make a lot of mistakes. And sometimes, they don’t even deserve the recognition we’ve given them.

For example, in his work Politics, Aristotle wrote, “[T]he relation of male to female is by nature a relation of superior to inferior and ruler to ruled."

Einstein cheated on his wife… with his cousin.

Thomas Edison stole many of his ideas from others and claimed them as his own.

And, unfortunately, Alexander Graham Bell was not entirely the telephone-inventing genius we’ve made him out to be.

Cover Image Credit: Bio

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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High School Seniors Should Be Excited For College, Not Scared

Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy
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Going into the summer after my high school graduation, all I could think about was college, and how I was going to prepare to go to a new school and move away from home. Just know, it is not as stressful as you prepare yourself for it to be. You don't need to worry about not having any friends or not knowing how to get to all the different buildings because you have to remember everyone else on campus has been in the exact same position you are in, and there are tons of people on campus to help you.

One of the things I was most worried about was classes and how to know which classes to take. My advice is to go to counseling and plan out your classes before you register. Planning out classes will drastically help you stay on track and the counselors will help you make a balanced schedule that you can actually handle.

Another piece of advice would be to not bring as much stuff for your dorm as you think you will need. By all means, bring the essential things that you will need, but remember a dorm room is very small and you share it with another person. You won't have a ton of space for extra stuff and you want to have space to move around and actually live in your dorm.

Finally, if you are concerned about meeting people and making friends, just try and be as outgoing and open as possible. Everyone else in the dorms is just as nervous as you are too meet people, it really helps to try to branch out. Joining clubs or greek life also helps you meet people around campus with common interests as you.

College is not something to be scared of. Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy

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