|Died||January 21, 1901 65) (aged|
|Awards||Elliott Cresson Medal (1897)|
Elisha Gray (August 2, 1835 – January 21, 1901) was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company. Gray is best known for his development of a telephone prototype in 1876 in Highland Park, Illinois. Some recent authors have argued that Gray should be considered the true inventor of the telephone because Alexander Graham Bell allegedly stole the idea of the liquid transmitter from him.Although Gray had been using liquid transmitters in his telephone experiments for more than two years previously, Bell's telephone patent was upheld in numerous court decisions.
Gray is also considered to be the father of the modern music synthesizer,and was granted over 70 patents for his inventions. He was one of the founders of Graybar, purchasing a controlling interest in the company shortly after its inception.
Gray was born in Barnesville, Ohio, the son of Christiana (Edgerton) and David Gray.His family were Quakers. He was brought up on a farm. He spent several years at Oberlin College where he experimented with electrical devices. Although Gray did not graduate, he taught electricity and science there and built laboratory equipment for its science departments.
In 1862 while at Oberlin, Gray met and married Delia Minerva Shepard.
In 1865 Gray invented a self-adjusting telegraph relay that automatically adapted to varying insulation of the telegraph line. In 1867 Gray received a patent for the invention, the first of more than seventy.
In 1869, Elisha Gray and his partner Enos M. Barton founded Gray & Barton Co. in Cleveland, Ohio to supply telegraph equipment to the giant Western Union Telegraph Company. The electrical distribution business was later spun off and organized into a separate company, Graybar Electric Company, Inc. Barton was employed by Western Union to examine and test new products.
In 1870 financing for Gray & Barton Co. was arranged by General Anson Stager, a superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Stager became an active partner in Gray & Barton Co. and remained on the board of directors. The company moved to Chicago near Highland Park. Gray later gave up his administrative position as chief engineer to focus on inventions that could benefit the telegraph industry. Gray's inventions and patent costs were financed by a dentist, Dr. Samuel S. White of Philadelphia, who had made a fortune producing porcelain teeth. White wanted Gray to focus on the acoustic telegraph which promised huge profits instead of what appeared to be unpromising competing inventions such as the telephone. White made the decision in 1876 to redirect Gray's interest in the telephone.
In 1870, Gray developed a needle annunciator for hotels and another for elevators. He also developed a microphone printer which had a typewriter keyboard and printed messages on paper tape.
In 1872 Western Union, then financed by the Vanderbilts and J. P. Morgan, bought one-third of Gray and Barton Co. and changed the name to Western Electric Manufacturing Company of Chicago. Gray continued to invent for Western Electric.
In 1874, Gray retired to do independent research and development. Gray applied for a patent on a harmonic telegraph which consisted of multi-tone transmitters, that controlled each tone with a separate telegraph key. Gray gave several private demonstrations of this invention in New York and Washington, D.C. in May and June 1874.
Gray was a charter member of the Presbyterian Church in Highland Park, Illinois. At the church, on December 29, 1874, Gray gave the first public demonstration of his invention for transmitting musical tones and transmitted "familiar melodies through telegraph wire" according to a newspaper announcement. This was one of the earliest electric musical instruments using vibrating electromagnetic circuits that were single-note oscillators operated by a two-octave piano keyboard. The "Musical Telegraph" used steel reeds whose oscillations were created by electromagnets and transmitted over a telegraph wire. Gray also built a simple loudspeaker in later models consisting of a vibrating diaphragm in a magnetic field to make the oscillator tones audible and louder at the receiving end. In 1900 Gray worked on an underwater signaling device. After his death in 1901 officials gave the invention to Oberlin College. A few years later he was recognized as the inventor of the underwater signaling device.
On July 27, 1875, Gray was granted U.S. Patent 166,095 for "Electric Telegraph for Transmitting Musical Tones" (acoustic telegraphy).
Because of Samuel White'sopposition to Gray working on the telephone, Gray did not tell anybody about his invention for transmitting voice sounds until February 11, 1876 (Friday). Gray requested that his patent lawyer William D. Baldwin prepare a "caveat" for filing at the US Patent Office. A caveat was like a provisional patent application with drawings and description but without a request for examination.
On Monday morning February 14, 1876, Gray signed and had notarized the caveat that described a telephone that used a liquid transmitter. Baldwin then submitted the caveat to the US Patent Office. That same morning a lawyer for Alexander Graham Bell submitted Bell's patent application. Which application arrived first is hotly disputed, although Gray believed that his caveat arrived a few hours before Bell's application.Bell's lawyers in Washington, DC, had been waiting with Bell's patent application for months, under instructions not to file it in the USA until it had been filed in Britain first. (At the time, Britain would only issue patents on discoveries not previously patented elsewhere.)
According to Evenson, during the weekend of February 12–14, 1876, before either caveat or application had been filed in the patent office, Bell's lawyer learned about the liquid transmitter idea in Gray's caveat that would be filed early Monday morning February 14.Bell's lawyer then added seven sentences describing the liquid transmitter and a variable resistance claim to Bell's draft application. After the lawyer's clerk recopied the draft as a finished patent application, Bell's lawyer hand-delivered the finished application to the patent office just before noon Monday, a few hours after Gray's caveat was delivered by Gray's lawyer. Bell's lawyer requested that Bell's application be immediately recorded and hand-delivered to the examiner on Monday so that later Bell could claim it had arrived first. Bell was in Boston at this time and was not aware that his application had been filed.
Five days later, on February 19, Zenas Fisk Wilber, the patent examiner for both Bell's application and Gray's caveat, noticed that Bell's application claimed the same variable resistance feature described in Gray's caveat. Wilber suspended Bell's application for 90 days to give Gray time to submit a competing patent application. The suspension also gave Bell time to amend his claims to avoid an interference with an earlier patent application of Gray's that mentioned changing the intensity of the electric current without breaking the circuit, which seemed to the examiner to be an "undulatory current" that Bell was claiming. Such an interference would delay Bell's application until Bell submitted proof, under the first to invent rules, that Bell had invented that feature before Gray.
Bell's lawyer telegraphed Bell, who was still in Boston, to come to Washington, DC. When Bell arrived on February 26, Bell visited his lawyers and then visited examiner Wilber who told Bell that Gray's caveat showed a liquid transmitter and asked Bell for proof that the liquid transmitter idea (described in Bell's patent application as using mercury as the liquid) was invented by Bell. Bell pointed to an application of Bell's filed a year earlier where mercury was used in a circuit breaker. The examiner accepted this argument, although mercury would not have worked in a telephone transmitter. On February 29, Bell's lawyer submitted an amendment to Bell's claims that distinguished them from Gray's caveat and Gray's earlier application. U.S. Patent 174,465 was published by the U.S. Patent Office.On March 3, Wilber approved Bell's application and on March 7, 1876,
Bell returned to Boston and resumed work on March 9, drawing a diagram in his lab notebook of a water transmitter being used face down, very similar to that shown in Gray's caveat.Bell and Watson built and tested a liquid transmitter design on March 10 and successfully transmitted clear speech saying "Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you." Bell's notebooks became public when they were donated to the Library of Congress in 1976.
Although Bell has been accused of stealing the telephone from Gray U.S. Patent 161,739 to Bell for a primitive fax machine, which he called the "autograph telegraph." The patent drawing includes liquid transmitters.because his liquid transmitter design resembled Gray's, documents in the Library of Congress indicate that Bell had been using liquid transmitters extensively for three years in his multiple telegraph and other experiments. In April, 1875, ten months before the alleged theft of Gray's design, the U.S. Patent Office granted
After March 1876, Bell and Watson focused on improving the electromagnetic telephone and never used Gray's liquid transmitter in public demonstrations or commercial use.
Although Gray had abandoned his caveat, Gray applied for a patent for the same invention in late 1877. This put him in a second interference with Bell's patents. The Patent Office determined, "while Gray was undoubtedly the first to conceive of and disclose the [variable resistance] invention, as in his caveat of February 14, 1876, his failure to take any action amounting to completion until others had demonstrated the utility of the invention deprives him of the right to have it considered."Gray challenged Bell's patent anyway, and after two years of litigation, Bell was awarded rights to the invention, and as a result, Bell is credited as the inventor.
In 1886, Wilber stated in an affidavitthat he was an alcoholic and deeply in debt to Bell's lawyer Marcellus Bailey with whom Wilber had served in the Civil War. Wilber stated that, contrary to Patent Office rules, he showed Bailey the caveat Gray had filed. He also stated that he showed the caveat to Bell and Bell gave him $100. Bell testified that they only discussed the patent in general terms, although in a letter to Gray, Bell admitted that he learned some of the technical details. Wilbur's affidavit contradicted his earlier testimony, and historians have pointed out that his last affidavit was drafted for him by the attorneys for the Pan-Electric Company which was attempting to steal the Bell patents and was later discovered to have bribed the U.S. Attorney General Augustus Garland and several Congressmen.
Bell's patent was disputed in 1888 by attorney Lysander Hill who accused Wilber of allowing Bell or his lawyer Pollok to add a handwritten margin note of seven sentences to Bell's application that describe an alternate design similar to Gray's liquid microphone design.However, the marginal note was added only to Bell's earlier draft, not to his patent application that shows the seven sentences already present in a paragraph. Bell testified that he added those seven sentences in the margin of an earlier draft of his application "almost at the last moment before sending it off to Washington" to his lawyers. Bell or his lawyer could not have added the seven sentences to the application after it was filed in the Patent Office, because then the application would not have been suspended.
In 1887 Gray invented the telautograph, a device that could remotely transmit handwriting through telegraph systems. Gray was granted several patents for these pioneer fax machines, and the Gray National Telautograph Company was chartered in 1888 and continued in business as The Telautograph Corporation for many years; after a series of mergers it was finally absorbed by Xerox in the 1990s. Gray's telautograph machines were used by banks for signing documents at a distance and by the military for sending written commands during gun tests when the deafening noise from the guns made spoken orders on the telephone impractical. The machines were also used at train stations for schedule changes.[ citation needed ]
Gray displayed his telautograph invention in 1893 at the 1893 Columbian Exposition and sold his share in the telautograph shortly after that. Gray was also chairman of the International Congress of Electricians at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
Gray conceived of a primitive closed-circuit television system that he called the "telephote". Pictures would be focused on an array of selenium cells and signals from the selenium cells would be transmitted to a distant station on separate wires. At the receiving end each wire would open or close a shutter to recreate the image.
In 1899 Gray moved to Boston where he continued inventing. One of his projects was to develop an underwater signaling device to transmit messages to ships. One such signaling device was tested on December 31, 1900. Three weeks later, on January 21, 1901, Gray died from a heart attack in Newtonville, Massachusetts.
Some modern authorsincorrectly attribute the Gray code to Elisha Gray, whereas it was actually named after Frank Gray.
Gray wrote several books including:
Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born inventor, scientist, and engineer who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.
A telephone is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user. The term is derived from Greek: τῆλε and φωνή, together meaning distant voice. A common short form of the term is phone, which came into use almost immediately after the first patent was issued.
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden was a Canadian-born inventor, who did a majority of his work in the United States and also claimed U.S. citizenship through his American-born father. During his life he received hundreds of patents in various fields, most notably ones related to radio and sonar.
Lee de Forest was an American inventor, self-described "Father of Radio", and a pioneer in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. He had over 180 patents, but also a tumultuous career—he boasted that he made, then lost, four fortunes. He was also involved in several major patent lawsuits, spent a substantial part of his income on legal bills, and was even tried for mail fraud. His most famous invention, in 1906, was the three-element "Audion" (triode) vacuum tube, the first practical amplification device. Although De Forest had only a limited understanding of how it worked, it was the foundation of the field of electronics, making possible radio broadcasting, long distance telephone lines, and talking motion pictures, among countless other applications.
Johann Philipp Reis was a self-taught German scientist and inventor. In 1861, he constructed the first make-and-break telephone, today called the Reis telephone.
The telautograph, an analog precursor to the modern fax machine, transmits electrical impulses recorded by potentiometers at the sending station to servomechanisms attached to a pen at the receiving station, thus reproducing at the receiving station a drawing or signature made by the sender. It was the first such device to transmit drawings to a stationary sheet of paper; previous inventions in Europe had used rotating drums to make such transmissions.
Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci was an Italian inventor and an associate of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a major political figure in the history of Italy. Meucci is best known for developing a voice-communication apparatus that several sources credit as the first telephone.
Nathan Beverly Stubblefield, self-described "practical farmer, fruit grower and electrician", was an American inventor best known for his wireless telephone work. He received widespread attention in early 1902 when he gave a series of public demonstrations of a battery-operated wireless telephone, which could be transported to different locations and used on mobile platforms such as boats. While this initial design employed conduction, in 1908 he received a U.S. patent for a wireless telephone system that used magnetic induction. However, he was ultimately unsuccessful in commercializing his inventions. He later went into seclusion, and died alone in 1928.
This timeline of the telephone covers landline, radio, and cellular telephony technologies and provides many important dates in the history of the telephone.
The invention of the telephone was the culmination of work done by many individuals, and led to an array of lawsuits relating to the patent claims of several individuals and numerous companies.
Graybar is an American employee-owned corporation, based in Clayton, Missouri. It conducts a wholesale distribution business for electrical, communications and data networking products, and is a provider of related supply-chain management and logistics services. It is included on the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations.
The carbon microphone, also known as carbon button microphone, button microphone, or carbon transmitter, is a type of microphone, a transducer that converts sound to an electrical audio signal. It consists of two metal plates separated by granules of carbon. One plate is very thin and faces toward the speaking person, acting as a diaphragm. Sound waves striking the diaphragm cause it to vibrate, exerting a varying pressure on the granules, which in turn changes the electrical resistance between the plates. Higher pressure lowers the resistance as the granules are pushed closer together. A steady direct current is passed between the plates through the granules. The varying resistance results in a modulation of the current, creating a varying electric current that reproduces the varying pressure of the sound wave. In telephony, this undulating current is directly passed through the telephone wires to the central office. In public address systems it is amplified by an audio amplifier. The frequency response of most carbon microphones, however, are limited to a narrow range, and the device produces significant electrical noise.
The Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell controversy concerns the question of whether Gray and Bell invented the telephone independently. This issue is narrower than the question of who deserves credit for inventing the telephone, for which there are several claimants.
This history of the telephone chronicles the development of the electrical telephone, and includes a brief review of its predecessors.
Acoustic telegraphy was a name for various methods of multiplexing telegraph messages simultaneously over a single telegraph wire by using different audio frequencies or channels for each message. A telegrapher used a conventional Morse key to tap out the message in Morse code. The key pulses were transmitted as pulses of a specific audio frequency. At the receiving end a device tuned to the same frequency resonated to the pulses but not to others on the same wire.
A patent caveat, often shortened to caveat, was a legal document filed with the United States Patent Office.
A water microphone or water transmitter is based on Ohm's law that current in a wire varies inversely with the resistance of the circuit. The sound waves from a human voice cause a diaphragm to vibrate which causes a needle or rod to vibrate up and down in water that has been made conductive by a small amount of acid. As the needle or rod vibrates up and down in the water, the resistance of the water fluctuates which causes alternating current in the circuit. For this to work, the resistance of the water must vary substantially over the short distance the needle or rod vibrates. Acidulated water works well because only a small amount of acid is added. If one millimeter of acidulated water has a resistance of 100 ohms, two millimeters would have 200 ohms which would produce enough alternating current to transmit audio signals in thousands of feet of wire. Mercury will not work because the resistance of one millimeter of mercury is less than a tenth of an ohm and vibration of a needle in mercury would produce negligible alternating current.
Marcellus Bailey was an American patent attorney who, with Anthony Pollok, helped prepare Alexander Graham Bell's patents for the telephone and related inventions.
Anthony Pollok was an American patent attorney who, with Marcellus Bailey, helped prepare Alexander Graham Bell's patents for the telephone and related inventions.
The Telephone Cases, 126 U.S. 1 (1888), were a series of US court cases in the 1870s and the 1880s related to the invention of the telephone, which culminated in the 1888 decision of the US Supreme Court upholding the priority of the patents belonging to Alexander Graham Bell. Those telephone patents were relied on by the American Bell Telephone Company and the Bell System although they had also acquired critical microphone patents from Emile Berliner.
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