On This Day: Watson Recalls First Summons by Telephone

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell picked up his telephone in his rented, Boston laboratory and called his assistant Thomas A. Watson.

He said the first complete sentence transmitted by telephone: “Mr. Watson — come here — I need you.”

On this recording (the audio from a lost video produced by the Edison motion picture film studio in the Bronx) Watson recalls the invention of the instrument that transmitted these words. His account of the big event is pretty slim, but hearing him catalog it as one event in the many years of experiments and telephone models may be the most telling part of his story. This audio comes from the Prelinger archive.

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2 thoughts on “On This Day: Watson Recalls First Summons by Telephone

  1. Seth Shulman’s The Telephone Gambit is a very interesting addition to the usual story of Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone. It makes a strong case that Bell went along with his father-in-law in manipulating his patent application to include technology he hadn’t invented, then raced desperately to make that tech better in time for the Centennial Exposition.

    There was a series of lawsuits over the telephone patent in the late 1800s, and Shulman’s isn’t the first book to explore that record, but it’s widely available and well written.

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