History of the Speaking Telephone


As the writer of the article on the history of the telephone, to which so eminent an authority as Prof. Watson takes exception in the long and interesting letter he has contributed to your columns, perhaps you will allow me to say a few words. Prof. Watson expresses his “astonishment at the claim now made that he (Mr. Gray) anticipated Mr. Bell in the invention of the speaking telephone”, and speaks of the “erroneous statement of facts” contained in the article in question (NATURE, vol. xviii. p. 696). Unfortunately Prof. Watson has not specified the statements which are erroneous, and appears to have overlooked the fact that the article is a review of the works of Mr. Prescott and M. du Moncel on the telephone, and that the “statements of facts” are chiefly quotations from those works. At the same time, using all the materials within my reach, careful inquiry had led me to concur, and in that article I expressed my concurrence in the following opinion, quoted from Count du Moncel's book:—“Si M. Bell a été le premier à construire et à rendre pratique le téléphone parlant, M. Elisha Gray avait le premier conçu le principe de cet instrument”.

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