Famous Scientists


Antonio Meucci

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Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci (1808-1889) was an Italian inventor and was as well an associate and friend to Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian nationalist. Many people would say and question that it was not Alexander Graham Bell who first invented telephone but Antonio Meucci did. He is known best as a voice communication apparatus developer which numerous sources count and consider as the first used telephone.

In his home at State Island, N.Y., Meucci set up a voice communication link that connected its laboratory to his bedroom located in the second floor. He then proposed a patent caveat to the US Patent Office for his telephonic device in 1871, but electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound was not mentioned in his patent caveat. Rather, Alexander Graham Bell was endowed a patent in 1876 for the electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound in his telephonic device by wavelike electric current.


Early Life and Academic Background

On April 13 1808, an inventor was born at Via dei Serragli 44 in the San Frediano region of Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which is now found in the Italian Republic. Antonio Meucci was the eldest child of the nine children to Domenica Pepi and Amatis Meucci. Antonio’s mother was mainly the housekeeper and his father at times local police member and government clerk. Unfortunately, there were four out of the nine of Meucci’s siblings that did not survive or get through childhood.

In November 1821, Meucci at 15 was admitted to Florence Academy of Fine Arts where he became the youngest student who took up mechanical and chemical engineering. Two years later and due to insufficient funds, he stopped full-time schooling. The financial crisis did not stop him from continuing his studies by working part-time as an assistant gate-keeper and customs official for the government of Florentine. Later on, Antonio Meucci became employed as a stage technician at the Teatro della Pergola and assisted Artemio Canovetti.

In the year 1834, Meucci put up a kind of acoustic telephone to be able to communicate between the control room and the stage at the Teatro della Pergola. This type of telephone was built basing on the pipe telephone principles utilized on ships and still currently functions.

On August 7, 1837 Meucci married Esterre Mochi, a costume designer who happened to work at the same theatre where he worked part time.

From 1833 to 1834, Antonio Meucci was imprisoned for the period of three months with Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi because he was accused to be a part of the conspiracy which involved the Italian unification movement.

Career in Science

Meucci and his wife immigrated to Cuba in 1835 where he accepted a job at which was at that time, the greatest theater in the Americas. In Havana, he created a water purification system and he reconstructed the Gran Teatro.

As Meucci’s contract with the Governor expired in 1848, he was asked by a pal’s doctors to take a job at Franz Anton Mesmer’s therapy systems on rheumatic patients. That made him developed a renowned method of using electric shocks to give remedy to illness and consequently experimentally developed a piece of equipment in which one could use to hear the inarticulate voice of a person. The device was called by him as “telegrafo parlante” or talking telegraph. The fame which reached Samuel F. B. Morse in the U.S. inspired Meucci to make inventing his way of living.

On April 13, 1850, Meucci and his wife moved to United States and lived in the Clifton borough of Staten Island, New York. Meucci then decided that they would settle down there for the rest of their lives. In Staten Island, Meucci helped numerous countrymen obligated to the Italian Unification movement and who had broken out political persecution. He spent his savings in Cuba to build a tallow candle factory which became the first of its kind in the U.S. to intentionally give jobs to the numerous Italian exiles. However, in 1854, his wife Ester became an invalid because of rheumatoid arthritis. Despite it, Antonio Meucci continued with his experiments.

Meucci studied the electromagnetic voice communication principles for a lot of years and in 1856, he was able to finally recognize his dream of broadcasting his voice through wires. He set up a telephone-life piece of equipment in his house to be able to communicate with his, that time, ill wife. Several notes of Meucci supposedly written in 1857 give description to the basic principles of electromagnetic transmission of sound and voice or the telephone.

Meucci constructed allegedly the electromagnetic telephones. He structured a working model, supposedly an electromagnetic, but was not an acoustic version, which he made a way of making a connection with his basement laboratory and second floor bedroom. More importantly, he built this to be in touch with his wife. Between the years 1856 and 1870, Meucci was able to develop more than 30 various types of telephones basing on this prototype.

Meucci intended to pursue on developing his prototypes yet he lacked budget to support it and his candle factory became bankrupt. He looked for some Italian capitalists who are very willing to back up financially the project but because of the military expeditions in Italy, investment was unstable for everyone in the country. What Meucci did was publish his invention in the New York Italian-language newspaper even though no copy of these reports has been found.

Meucci did not give up his invention because on December 12, 1871, he was able to set up an agreement with Sereno G. P. Breguglia Tremeschin, Angelo Antonio Tremeschin, and Angelo Zilio Gandi to represent the Telettrofono Company. He was then funded to apply for full patency. His lawyer then submitted a caveat entitled “Sound Telegraph” on December 28, 1871 in the US Patent Office.

Despite all these, the caveat submitted by Meucci was not granted patent because it did not describe an electric telephone. They went on trial and Meucci’s invention and work, like several other inventors during his time, was structured mostly on the basis of earlier acoustic principles. Even though earlier experiments were presented as evidence, the final case was dropped eventually due to his death on October 18, 1889.


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