The Telephone Gambit

The Telephone Gambit

"The Telephone Gambit" is a 2008 book by Seth Shulman about the Elisha Gray and Alexander Bell telephone controversy. It argues that Bell had an inside source that stole Gray's invention at the patent office.

The facts

The "Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret" by Seth Shulman (W.W. Norton, 2008) notes that in 1876:

# Bell's notebook records him making small incremental changes every day for months.
# On February 14, Elisha Gray files a "caveat" (like a provisional patent) for the telephone.
# Several hours earlier Bell filed a patent on the same idea.
# On February 19 the patent office says they will suspend Bell's patent for three months until they can decide whether they should begin proceedings to determine whether Bell or Gray invented the telephone first.
# On February 24 Bell leaves for Washington and doesn't experiment until his return two weeks later on March 7.
# Bell's patent is issued on March 7, even though most patents from the period took months or years to issue.
# On March 8, he makes a sudden shift in his experiments and "introduces a striking contraption: a diaphragm with a needle sticking through it into [] acidic water".
# The striking contraption is "almost identical" to the one in Gray's patent application.
# Bell does not get the telephone to work until March 10, even though the patent office requires a working model with a patent application.


* [ More information] at
* [ Review] at Wall Street Journal
* [ Review] at Boston Globe
* [ Review] at Christian Science Monitor
* [,0,7234406.story?coll=la-books-headlines Review] at Los Angeles Times
* [,,20169162,00.html Review] at Entertainment Weekly

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