Manuscripts/Mixed Material Speech by Thomas A. Watson, May 18, 1915
An address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, New York, May 18, 1915.
Copyright 1915. By A. I. E. E.
HOW BELL INVENTED THE TELEPHONE
BY THOMAS A. WATSON
IT IS my privilege and pleasure to speak to you of the invention of the telephone, with which event it was my good fortune to be connected, my association with Prof. Bell as his mechanical expert having brought me into close touch with nearly all his experiments both before and after his great discovery.
I shall try to tell the story as it impressed itself on my mind in those early days when I was a young man of about 20, just out of my apprenticeship as a maker of electrical apparatus, intensely interested in my work, and with a full share of youthful enthusiasm. In my story, I shall not use the terms and formulas of modern telephony, for they would certainly be out of place in speaking of the time when that science, now so complex, was contained in one human brain.
It was in the year 1875 that the telephone emerged from the mists of the unknown into a world that had no dynamos, no electric motors, no trolley cars, no storage batteries, no electric lights, no wireless telegraphs, no steam turbines, no gas engines, no automobiles, and no professional electrical engineers, for none of our universities had up to that time offered to their students electrical courses.
Those men we all revere—Davy, Faraday, Henry, Volta, Oersted, Ohm, Maxwell, Thomson, and others, had already laid the deep and sure foundations on which modern electrical practise has been built, but apart from the telegraph, electricity, as a practical utility, had scarcely entered the daily life of man.
In 1874 in place of the great electrical manufacturing establishments of the present day, there were a few crude little work shops scattered throughout the country, eking out a precarious existence chiefly by making telegraph instruments, school apparatus, call bells, annunciators, etc., and also experimental apparatus for the many inventors who utilized the meagre facilities of those shops to put into practical shape