Internet InfoMedia on this day in history march 10 1876 alexander graham bell makes first telephone call from boston lab

Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call from a downtown Boston laboratory on this day in history, March 10, 1876. 

“Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you,” Bell wrote in his own account of the first words transmitted via the new technology.

“To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said,” Bell added.

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“I asked him to repeat the words. He answered, ‘You said ‘Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.’ We then changed places and I listened at S [the speaker] while Mr. Watson read a few passages from a book into the mouthpiece M. It was certainly the case that articulate sounds proceeded from S. The effect was loud but indistinct and muffled.”

The site of his world-changing work is memorialized with plaques in downtown Boston. 

Telephone inventor Bell

American inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) with one of his inventions, circa 1910. Bell engineered the first intelligible electronic transmission of voice and patented the telephone, and was a founding member and president of the National Geographic Society.  (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

His assistant, Thomas Watson, offered a slightly different version of the first words ever spoken by telephone: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you,” one of the world’s most famous sidekicks wrote in his journal. 

“Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you.” — Alexander Graham Bell in first phone call

Regardless, the world suddenly became a much smaller place.

Bell’s personal history, innate curiosity and talent made him uniquely qualified for what’s gone down as a landmark moment in human history.

“The Scottish-born Bell had a lifelong interest in the nature of sound,” wrote Wired.com.

“He was born into a family of speech instructors, and his mother and his wife both had hearing impairments.” 

Bell and Watson

Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson at 5 Exeter Place, Boston, in March 1887. (Getty Images)

His background, coupled with a rapidly changing world of technology, made Bell the right person at the right time. 

“While ostensibly working in 1875 on a device to send multiple telegraph signals over the same wire by using harmonics, he heard a twang,” adds Wired. 

“That led him to investigate whether his electrical apparatus could be used to transmit the sound of a human voice.”

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While Bell is known to have made the first phone call, the title of inventor of the telephone has long been disputed. 

Elisha Gray of Ohio competed feverishly with Bell on the same technology. 

“On Feb. 14, 1876, Gray filed with the U.S. Patent Office a caveat (an announcement of an invention he expected soon to patent) describing apparatus ‘for transmitting vocal sounds telegraphically,’” writes Oberlin College of its alumnus. 

Bell earned the title of telephone inventor after years of litigation, though the determination remains “debatable.” — Oberlin College

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