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The Face Rings A Bell

March 11, 2010

Everywhere You Go

Over the last few weeks we have focused on future cars and Intelligent Transportation Systems. However, as important as transportation has been to mankind in moving people and product, communication’s role in moving data and information has perhaps eclipsed transportation in the vital role it plays in our life. Not that we use one technology solely to the exclusion of the other. In fact, now thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone we can take it wherever we go.

As part of our History of Technology Series we have put together this post about the 134th anniversary of the invention of the telephone. Often referred to as the most valuable patent ever issued, Bell’s claim still stirs controversy.

In any case, Alexander Graham Bell‘s March 10, 1876, call out to Watson is noteworthy. Below we cover some historical and comical stories about telephony in order to celebrate this wondrous technology that now attracts so much of our attention and income.

“Mr. Watson, come here, I want you (Be-yatch)”

Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847-August 2, 1922) was a Scottish scientist and inventor who immigrated to Canada. Today, Bell is widely considered one of the foremost developers of the telephone, together with Antonio Meucci, inventor of the first telephone prototype, and Philipp Reis. Six years after having obtained his telephone patent, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In addition to Bell’s work in telecommunications technology, he was responsible for important advances in aviation and hydrofoil technology.

Bell’s March 10, 1876 laboratory notebook entry describing his first successful experiment with the telephone.

Watson Describes Invention of Telephone by Bell

In a recording made in the 1920s, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant Thomas Watson describes the invention of the telephone in 1876. He then describes speaking to Bell on the first transcontinental phone call in 1916.

Phone Follies and Friday Funnies Follow…

Telephone Patent Follies

Patents can be nutty things. Designed to protect inventors (whether individual or business) in the same way that copyrights protect authors, US patents can be applied for for any number of items, ranging from the strange and unmarketable to the most basic and valuable.

The patent for the telephone (US patent number 174,465) is widely thought to be the most valuable patent ever granted, which is no real surprise. It is a surprise, however, to discover that the patent very nearly went to Elisha Gray, not to Alexander Graham Bell. See more at the Virtual Museum of Telecommunications.

There’s also a fun timeline.

One Ringy Dingy Ernestine and Ma Bell rough-up a customer.

Other related juvenile jokey news…

The rings of Uranuswere discovered on March 10, 1977, by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham.

The scheme of Uranus's ring-moon system. Solid lines denote rings; dashed lines denote orbits of moons.

“Uranus has 27 known natural satellites. The names for these satellites are chosen from characters from the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The five main satellites are Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon.” Wikipedia

Some wag has suggested that Steve Jobs is going after Bell’s telephone patent. He doesn’t mention if Apple board member, and Internet inventor Al Gore, is joining in the suit.

Apple Files Lawsuit Against Estate of Alexander Graham Bell

By Brian Briggs

Cupertino, CA – Apple Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the estate of famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell claiming the telephone “invented” by Bell violated several patents held by Apple. The company expects to recover all revenue generate by phone sales over the past 134 years. See the full blog post

And for your Final Friday (+/-) Funny…

Here’s an old joke I remember from the time I was a scout. You can read the full skit below, the  punch line is: “No. But his face rings a bell.” See: Quazimoto, the Bell Ringer Skit


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