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One of the greatest advancements was the telephone, which Alexander Graham Bell patented in 1876 ( [link] ). While he was not the first to invent the concept, Bell was the first one to capitalize on it; after securing the patent, he worked with financiers and businessmen to create the National Bell Telephone Company. Western Union, which had originally turned down Bell’s machine, went on to commission Thomas Edison to invent an improved version of the telephone. It is actually Edison’s version that is most like the modern telephone used today. However, Western Union, fearing a costly legal battle they were likely to lose due to Bell’s patent, ultimately sold Edison’s idea to the Bell Company. With the communications industry now largely in their control, along with an agreement from the federal government to permit such control, the Bell Company was transformed into the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, which still exists today as AT&T. By 1880, fifty thousand telephones were in use in the United States, including one at the White House. By 1900, that number had increased to 1.35 million, and hundreds of American cities had obtained local service for their citizens. Quickly and inexorably, technology was bringing the country into closer contact, changing forever the rural isolation that had defined America since its beginnings.

A page from Alexander Graham Bell’s patent of the telephone is shown, depicting different illustrations of the device.
Alexander Graham Bell’s patent of the telephone was one of almost 700,000 U.S. patents issued between 1850 and 1900. Although the patent itself was only six pages long, including two pages of illustrations, it proved to be one of the most contested and profitable of the nineteenth century. (credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Visit the Library of Congress to examine the controversy over the invention of the telephone. While Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention, several other inventors played a role in its development; however, Bell was the first to patent the device.

Thomas edison and electric lighting

Although Thomas Alva Edison ( [link] ) is best known for his contributions to the electrical industry, his experimentation went far beyond the light bulb. Edison was quite possibly the greatest inventor of the turn of the century, saying famously that he “hoped to have a minor invention every ten days and a big thing every month or so.” He registered 1,093 patents over his lifetime and ran a world-famous laboratory, Menlo Park, which housed a rotating group of up to twenty-five scientists from around the globe.

Edison became interested in the telegraph industry as a boy, when he worked aboard trains selling candy and newspapers. He soon began tinkering with telegraph technology and, by 1876, had devoted himself full time to lab work as an inventor. He then proceeded to invent a string of items that are still used today: the phonograph, the mimeograph machine, the motion picture projector, the dictaphone, and the storage battery, all using a factory-oriented assembly line process that made the rapid production of inventions possible.

Questions & Answers

What does chasquis mean?
mary Reply
i need help
Maria
chasquis (also chaskis) were the messengers of the Inca empire. Agile, highly trained and physically fit, they were in charge of carrying the quipus, messages and gifts, up to 240 km per day through the chasquis relay system.
NAEEM
How did imperialism Effect America
Melinda Reply
when did the most distinguished leaders meet
Osvaldo Reply
what is the main idea of the passage
The Reply
what major industries emerged in the decades after the Civil war
ComicHickory Reply
Does militia men still exist in U.S.A?
Shakeel Reply
To contrast the steamboat of the antebellum to today’s technology?
Nyrah Reply
contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today.
Nyrah
I love reading books about history.
David
I reading what happened earlier so much
melanda
I meant I love to read a lot
melanda
omg I never noticed this until now.
sunny
what advantages did people in urban areas have over rural areas?
HAILEY Reply
what factors helped cause the dust bowl
HAILEY
They had easy availability of food water. They had more comfortable life style as compare to people in rural areas. Better education was at there disposal
Shakeel
why did northerners lose thier resolve to pursue reconstruction
bambi Reply
what is taring and feathering?
Dominic Reply
Isnt there any laws in place for gun control?
Ryan Reply
How would you characterize the former president’s reaction? What do you think he means by writing that the Missouri Compromise line “is a reprieve only, not a final sentence”?
Tonda Reply
Compare and contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today. In your estimation, what modern technology compares to steamboats in its transformative power?
Tonda Reply
airplanes to jets. Another would be electric trains.
Darren
I would say the Internal Combustion engine was as if not more transformative the the Steam power which it replaced. The ability of the Steamboat to rapidly move large amounts of goods through the water ways that weave there way from town to town increased our fledgling country's economy. I can draw direct coraleris with the National highway system built during the 1950's that were soon clogged with Transport trucks using I.C.E.
Pancho
what are the impact of the missionaries on indigenous knowledge of black communities
Don Reply
What were the initial issues that lead to the introduction of legislation
Benedicta Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
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