“Saved by the Bell”

    “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you”

According to Reader’s Digest, Discovering America’s Past, “Alexander Graham Bell’s coherent telephone message…was in fact a cry for help…” “An accidental splash of acid prompted Alexander Graham Bell to make the first phone call, which his assistant, Tom Watson, answered by rushing in from a room down the hall.”

The invention of the telephone first appeared in the 1870’s. While visiting the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, placed the receiver to his ear and was treated to Bell’s recitation of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Delighted and astonished, Dom Pedro exclaimed, “It talks!”

Critics questioned its practicality and some saw it as a scientific toy. In order for Bell to marry Mabel, and receive his future father-in-law’s blessing, Bell and Watson embarked on a demonstration tour. Alexander Graham Bell, in Salem, Massachusetts, 1877, using leased or loaned telegraph wires for connection, sat on stage, while Watson was stationed miles away. After Watson’s introduction and shouted greetings, Watson received thunderous ovations for his repertoire of song, which included Yankee Doodle, Hold the Fort, and a favorite, Do Not Trust Him, Gentle Lady.

American History Illustrated, published by The National Historical Society and noted Affilitates


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