Bell Invents the Telephone: Feb. 14, 1876

Phoenix, AZ

Although the invention of the telephone is associated with Alexander Graham Bell, the first prototype for an apparatus that could use electrical impulses to convey the sound of a human voice was devised in 1860 by German inventor, Johann Philipp Reis. By 1875, Bell created a provisional “acoustic telegraph,” and on Feb. 14, 1876, his lawyer filed a patent for his design—just ahead of a rival patent filing by Elisha Gray. Bell didn’t achieve a working model of his device until March 10, 1876, when he used a transmitter to summon his assistant, Thomas Watson, from an adjoining room: “Mr. Watson, come here—I want to see you.” In October 1877, a telephone line was put in the White House for President Rutherford Hayes.

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