18 April 2009

Knowing Antonio Meucci

Antonio Meucci (April 13, 1808 – October 18, 1889) was an Italian inventor, who developed a form of voice communication apparatus in 1857. Many credit him with the invention of the telephone; for example, the Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (Italian Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art) calls him the "inventore del telefono" (inventor of the telephone). In 2002 the U. S. House of Representatives passed a bill recognizing Meucci's accomplishment and stating that "if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell." The resolution's sponsor described it as "a message that rings loud and clear recognizing the true inventor of the telephone, Antonio Meucci."
Meucci set up a form of voice communication link in his Staten Island home that connected the basement with the first floor, but was unable to raise sufficient funds to pay for the patent application. He filed a patent caveat in 1871, which was forced to expire in 1874. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the electro-magnetic transmission of vocal sound by undulatory electric current.
Meucci was born in via di Serragli, 44 in San Frediano, a borough of Florence, Italy, on April 13, 1808. He studied chemical and mechanical engineering at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts and later worked at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence as a stage technician, assisting Artemio Canovetti. In 1834 Meucci constructed a type of acoustic telephone to communicate between the stage and control room at the Teatro della Pergola. This telephone was constructed on the principles of pipe-telephones used on ships and is still working.
He married costume designer Ester Mochi on August 7, 1834.
He was alleged to be part of a conspiracy involving the Italian unification movement in 1833–1834, and was imprisoned for three months with Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi.
In 1856 Meucci reportedly constructed the first electromagnetic telephone. He constructed this as a way to connect his second-floor bedroom to his basement laboratory, and thus communicate with his wife. Between 1856 and 1870, Meucci developed more than 30 different kinds of telephones on the basis of this prototype. About 1858 the painter Nestore Corradi made a sketch of Meucci's intuitions (this drawing was used as the image on a stamp produced in 2003 by the Italian Postal and Telegraph Society).
In 1860 he began to look for funding and started in Italy: he asked his friend Enrico Bandelari to look for Italian capitalists willing to finance his project. However military expeditions led by the above mentioned general Garibaldi in Italy had made the political situation in that country too unstable for anybody to invest. Then Meucci decided to publish his invention in the New York Italian-language newspaper "L'Eco d'Italia". Source: Wikipedia
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