During the late 1800’s, two inventors had almost identical ideas for this AMAZING new transmitting device called “The Telephone.”
You can probably guess who ONE of those inventors was.
Alexander Graham Bell, of course.
But here’s a name that you might have heard before: Elisha Gray.
See, he actually recorded his schematics the telephone about six weeks before Bell did.
SO, YOU GOTTA WONDER: “Why is it that nobody remembers that guy?”
Well, Elisha Gray received a lot of criticism for his telephone invention.
Believing speech transmission to be a waste of time, the top technical journal of the industry, The Telegrapher, put down his idea.
“It is NOT a new idea,” claimed the publication, “…the telephone is an invention with no direct practical application.”
According to the (awesome) book They All Laughed, even Gray’s colleagues were unimpressed.
So, under the weight of criticism, he slowly started to give up on the idea that the telephone was a moneymaking enterprise.
Now, he didn’t give up totally. But he DID continue his research with heavy doubt.
Meanwhile, a determined young man named Alexander Graham Bell was still cooking up his idea for the same invention.
AND HERE’S THE CRAZY PART: although he had no affiliation with Gray, Bell’s initial sketch of the telephone was almost identical to his counterpart’s.
SO, YOU (STILL) GOTTA WONDER: “If Elisha Gray had the idea for the telephone first, why does Alexander Graham Bell always get credit for the invention?”
After constant legal struggle between the two inventors, the idea of the telephone was eventually deemed fair game for both parties.
So, on the morning of March 7th, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell walked into the Patent Office and secured his name as the official inventor of the telephone.
AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: later on that same afternoon, only two hours after Bell walked out with his patent, guess who walked in the door hoping to do the same thing?
You guessed it: Elisha Gray.
Too little, too late!
See, Elisha Gray didn’t show up in time, because he didn’t BELIEVE as much as Bell did.
He allowed criticism to stunt his creative momentum.
And as a result, he forfeited the opportunity to be recognized as one of the most influential inventors in modern history.
Two hours. That’s all it took.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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