Gray, Elisha

Gray, Elisha,

1835–1901, American inventor, b. Barnesville, Ohio. He patented many electrical devices, most of them having to do with the telegraphtelegraph,
term originally applied to any device or system for distant communication by means of visible or audible signals, now commonly restricted to electrically operated devices. Attempts at long-distance communication date back thousands of years (see signaling).
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. His telautograph (1888) for transmitting handwriting and line drawing was widely used. While experimenting in 1875 with the idea of sending musical notes by wire, as a means of sending several messages simultaneously over the same wire, he hit upon the idea of transmitting the human voice and early in 1876 filed with the patent office a caveat for such an invention. Alexander Graham BellBell, Alexander Graham,
1847–1922, American scientist, inventor of the telephone, b. Edinburgh, Scotland, educated at the Univ. of Edinburgh and University College, London; son of Alexander Melville Bell.
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's final patent had been registered just a few hours before. The Western Union Telegraph Company, which acquired both Gray's and Edison's patents, was defeated by the Bell Telephone Company in one of the most famous patent cases in American litigation. Gray taught at Oberlin College.
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Gray, Elisha

(1835–1901) inventor, manufacturer; born in Barnesville, Ohio. He worked as a blacksmith, a boatbuilder, and a carpenter before starting a small concern to make telegraphic equipment of his own invention. His little business eventually became the Western Electric Co., and Gray's some 70 patents included one for a multiplex telegraph. He claimed to have invented the telephone in the 1870s, but lost the patent rights to Alexander Graham Bell in a case eventually decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.