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1871 __ Telephone device : Sound Telegraph — Patent caveat 3335
Antonio Meucci (1808-1889)
Comment : Antonio Meucci filed a patent caveat for a telephone device in December of 1871. Patent caveats according to law were "a description of an invention, intended to be patented, lodged in the patent office before the patent was applied for, and operated as a bar to the issue of any patent to any other person regarding the same invention." Caveats lasted one year and were renewable. Patent caveats were much less costly than a full patent application and required a less detailed description of the invention. The U.S. Patent Office would note the subject matter of the caveat (no longer issued) and hold it in confidentiality. If within the year another inventor filed a patent application for a similar invention, the Patent Office notified the holder of the caveat, who then had three months to submit a formal application. Antonio Meucci did not renew his caveat after 1874 and Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent in March of 1876. It should be pointed out that a caveat does not guarantee that a patent will be granted, or what the scope of that patent will be. "...Like Gray, Meucci claims Bell stole his ideas. To be true Bell must have falsified every notebook and letter he wrote about coming to his conclusions. That is, it is not enough to steal, you must provide a false story about how you came along on the path to discovery. You must falsify each step toward invention. Nothing in Bell's writing, character, or his life after 1876 suggest he did so, indeed, in the more than 600 lawsuits which involved him, no one else was credited for inventing the telephone." Farley also writes that, "Nearly every scholar agrees that Bell and Watson were the first to transmit intelligible speech by electrical means. Others transmitted a sound or a click or a buzz but our boys [Bell and Watson] were the first to transmit speech one could understand.". (Tom Farley.)Antonio Meucci; April 13, 1808 – October 18, 1889) was a compatriot of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, and an inventor, best known for developing a voice communication apparatus in 1857. Many people credit him with the invention of the telephone. Meucci set up a form of voice communication link in his Staten Island home that connected the basement with the first floor. He submitted a patent caveat for his telephone-like device in 1871, which he chose not to renew after 1874. According to Meucci historian G.E. Schiavo: "Meucci was not granted a patent [for the device], but [he submitted] a caveat, a kind of provisional patent [application]. Anybody could get a caveat [filed in the patent office], even if the invention was worthless." In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound by undulatory electric current. On December 12, 1871 Meucci set up an agreement with Angelo Zilio Grandi (Secretary of the Italian Consulate in New York), Angelo Antonio Tremeschin (entrepreneur), Sereno G. P. Breguglia Tremeschin (businessman), in order to constitute the Telettrofono Company. The constitution was notarized by Angelo Bertolino, a Notary Public of New York. Although their society funded him with $20, only $15 was needed to file for a full patent application. The caveat his lawyer submitted to the US Patent Office on December 28, 1871 was numbered 3335 and titled "Sound Telegraph". (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « CAVEAT.The petition of Antonio Meucci, of Clifton, in the County of Richmond and State of New York, respectfully represents: That he has made certain improvements in Sound Telegraphs, ... The following is a description of the invention, sufficiently in detail for the purposes of this caveat. I employ the well-known conducting effect of continuous metallic conductors as a medium for sound, and increases the effect by electrically insulating both the conductor and the parties who are communicating. It forms a Speaking Telegraph, without the necessity for any hollow tube. I claim that a portion or the whole of the effect may also be realized by a corresponding arrangement with a metallic tube. I believe that some metals will serve better than others, but propose to try all kinds of metals. The system on which I propose to operate and calculate consists in isolating two persons, separated at considerable distance from each other, by placing them upon glass insulators; employing glass, for example, at the foot of the chair or bench on which each sits, and putting them in communication by means of a telegraph wire. I believe it preferable to have the wire of larger area than that ordinarily employed in the electric telegraph, but will experiment on this. Each of these persons holds to his mouth an instrument analogous to a speaking trumpet, in which the word may easily be pronounced, and the sound concentrated upon the wire. Another instrument is also applied to the ears, in order to receive the voice of the opposite party. All these, to wit, the mouth utensil and the ear instruments, communicate to the wire at a short distance from the persons. The ear utensils being of a convex form, like a clock glass, enclose the whole exterior part of the ear, and make it easy and comfortable for the operator. The object is to bring distinctly to the hearing the word of the person at the opposite end of the telegraph. To call attention, the party at the other end of the line may be warned by an electric telegraph signal, or a series of them. The apparatus for this purpose, and the skill in operating it, need be much less than for the ordinary telegraphing. When my sound telegraph is in operation, the parties should remain alone in their respective rooms, and every practicable precaution should be taken to have the surroundings perfectly quiet. The closed mouth utensil or trumpet, and the enclosing the persons also in a room alone, both tend to prevent undue publicity to the communication. I think it will be easy, by these means, to prevent the communication being understood by any but the proper persons. It may be found practicable to work with the person sending the message insulated, and with the person receiving it, in the free electrical communication with the ground. Or these conditions may possibly be reversed and still operate with some success. Both the conductors or utensils for mouth and ears should be, in fact I must say must be, metallic, and be so conditioned as to be good conductors of electricity. I claim as my invention, and desire to have considered as such, for all the purposes of this Caveat, The new invention herein set forth in all its details, combinations, and sub-combinations. And more especially, I claim : First. A continuous sound conductor electrically insulated. Second. The same adapted for telegraphing by sound or for conversation between distant parties electrically insulated. Third. The employment of a sound conductor, which is also an electrical conductor, as a means of communication by sound between distant points. Fourth. The same in combination with provisions for electrically insulating the sending and receiving parties. Fifth. The mouthpiece or speaking utensil in combination with an electrically insulating conductor. Sixth. The ear utensils or receiving vessels adapted to apply upon the ears in conbination with an electrically insulating sound conductor. Seventh. The entire system, comprising the electrical and sound conductor, insulated and furnished with a mouthpiece and ear pieces at each end, adapted to serve as specified. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand in presence of two subscribing witnesses. ANTONIO MEUCCI. Endorsed: Patent Office Dec. 28, 1871. »
Urls : http://files.meetup.com/1004848/MeucciMarch07.pdf (last visited )

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