Exorbitant costs being established for the financier’s benefit, no independent inventor-novice could ever become an independently successful competitor without “financial assistance”.
Meucci settled the matter by obtaining a caveat, a legal document which was considerably cheaper than the patent. Antonio could now only afford a caveat, a legal declaration of a successfully developed invention.
The caveat describes an invention and shows the time-fixed priority of an inventor’s work. Meucci had models as well as the legal caveat. His caveat would stand in court, bearing the official seal, a registry number, and the signatures of witnesses. The Meucci caveat was taken in 1871, when he was 63 years old.
While travelling from Manhattan to Staten Island, Meucci was nearly killed when the steam engine of the ferry exploded. He survived this explosion in some inexplicable miracle, severely burned and crippled. While he languished in a hospital bed, his wife sold his original teletrofono models for the small sum of six dollars in order to pay for his expenses.
These models were sold to one John Fleming of Clifton, a secondhand dealer. Attempting to repurchase these models, he was informed that a “young man” had secured the models. Unable to locate the purchaser, Meucci was devastated. He suddenly felt that his own creation was already taking on a life of its own…fleeing away from him, out of control.
Growing desperate with thoughts of his own growing age and poor condition, Meucci now pursued the issue of commercializing his invention without restraint. In 1874 Meucci met with a vice-president of the Western Union District Telegraph Company, a certain W.B. Grant. Meucci described his “talking telegraph” and the complete system which was now operational. Meucci requested a test of his teletrofoni on one of the Telegraph Lines and was promised assistance and cooperation.
Mr. Grant appeared in earnest, engaged Meucci for a long while, and requested Meucci to leave his models. Meucci did so, being encouraged that he would be contacted very shortly for the test run. Hours of waiting became days. At this point, Meucci attempted to contact Grant again. The vice president could “never be found”. Meucci continued visiting Western Union in hopes of reaching Grant and performing the required long-distance tests as promised him originally.
Meucci became bitterly angry over this betrayal of trust. The duplicity involved in the act of such unprofessional denial so exposed the fundamental methodology of American business that he wondered why he had ever left Cuba. So infuriated was he that he maintained a vigil at the Union Office, becoming an annoying eyesore. White haired, bearded, and bowed over with age, Meucci was viewed as a harmless old fool by younger, more aggressive office workers.
Adamant to the last, Meucci finally and loudly demanded the return of his every model. He was then very curtly informed that they “had been lost”. Grant had passed these devices onto Henry W. Pope for his professional opinion on the exact working of the devices, forgetting the issue completely in the course of a business day. The monopoly had beaten another victim. He stormed out.
The path which the Meucci models took inside Western Union has been traced. The models periodically kept appearing and disappearing in the electrical research labs of Western Union, revealed through the written studies of several curious individuals. The models were transferred among several engineers as successive new electrical directors were installed. Each examined the models in complete ignorance. Lacking introductory explanations, no one comprehended what the weighty wooden cups could do when electrified.
Franklin L. Pope, friend and partner with young Thomas Edison at the time, was given the models by his brother. Together Pope and George Prescott could not understand the nature of the devices, putting them into a storage area in Western Union. This seems to be the last mysterious repository of Meucci models. Given in trust years before, the models sat in the dustbins of Western Union. Lost science.
The true history of telephonics begins with Meucci. Others, far younger, were raised in an atmosphere which was enriched by Meucci’s developments. Phillip Reis noted the telephonic abilities of loosely positioned carbon rods through which flowed electrical currents. His primitive carbon microphone was later stolen by a vengeful Edison, who was in search of some means for both “breaking” the Bell Company’s hold on telephonics, and saving his own financial record with Western Union Telegraph.
Meucci led the way long before others. It must be mentioned that both Gray and Reis were independent and equally great discoverers who each, though antedating Meucci by some 20 years, actually predated Bell by at least 10 years. Some have suggested that, as Bell was encountering great difficulty in developing his own telephonic apparatus, these same models were given to him for the expressed purpose of speeding the race along.
Western Union would engage Edison to “bust” the Bell patent in later years. Edison’s invention of the carbon button telephonic transmitter was an inadvertent infringement of Meucci’s earliest responder designs. The industrialization of the telephone revealed the repetitious and convoluted infringement of Meucci’s every system-related invention. Bell’s own frantic rush to develop telephony had more to do with his need to “live up to” sizable investment monies given him for this research, and less with any true inventive abilities. The truth of this is borne out in considering Bell’s later work, involved in his frivolous failed “kite developments”. Indeed, without the fortunate “assistance” by friends at the Patent Office, Bell would have succeeded in neither defeating Meucci’s caveat nor Gray’s electro-harmonic patent.
Those who wished the implementation of telephony for financial gain, chose more controllable and less passionate individuals. Neither Meucci, Gray, nor Reis fit this category of choice. The Bell designs are obvious and direct copies of those long previously made by Meucci. The dubious manner in which the Bell patents were “handled and secured” speak more of “financial sleight of hand” than true inventive genius. The all too obvious manipulations behind the patent office desk are revealed in the historically pale claim that Bell secured his patent “15 minutes” before Gray applied for his caveat. Today it is not doubted whether perpetrators of such an arrogance would not go as far as to claim “15 years priority”.
- LUMINOUS WORLD – Baron Karl von Reichenbach
- EARTH ENERGY & VOCAL RADIO: Nathan Stubblefield