The most important circumstances (Alexander Graham Bell)
- You want to know for sure if I'm a true inventor of the telephone ... – Mr. Alexander Graham Bell smiled thoughtfully and got up from his massive chair. Stroking his thick white beard he came up to a three-winged window half covered by heavy red curtains. – You came from the USA to the Canadian Nova Scotia. It’s been a long way, but you have managed to find me here in my estate. So you only wanted to ask this one question?!
Mr. Bell frowned, put his hands behind his back and walked slowly along the wide window, staring at his feet. All this time, the emotionally charged movements of the Beinn Bhreagh estate owner were watched tensely by the Washington Post journalist, Greg, and Steven - the clerk from the US National Geographic Society accompanying him. The young people sat numb on a soft velvet sofa and did not dare to touch the cups with the herbal tea standing in the front of them on the coffee table and invitingly filling the air with the fragrant steam.
- Come here please, gentlemen, - Mr. Bell invited his guests to approach him and opened the curtains; he looked out of the window and started studying the nature outside. - Look at this beauty! There is a stunning emerald lawn, a blooming garden, a cool lake surrounded by pine trees and maples! Take a look over there - these are my cows and sheep grazing in the meadow beyond the fence. Beyond them you can see a wheat field and a corn plantation! I am interested in many things... I invented a grain peeling machine, a shearing device, a metal detector and a vacuum pump, a fundamentally new model of an airplane and a hydrofoil boat ... So why are you only interested in rumors and gossip around the authorship of a telephone?
- Sir, I sincerely apologize for our importunity, but attention to this matter is not my whim, - Greg tried to explain himself and unsteadily got up from the sofa, heading towards Mr. Bell. - These are interests of the public. Last year, in 1887, information has been spread around about the patent Mr. Antonio Meucci allegedly submitted back in 1871. So people in the United States have been discussing, who is really the author of the original invention - you or Antonio.
- Very well, - Mr. Bell shook his head as if puzzled and patted Greg on the shoulder approvingly. – I’ve always considered it my duty to assist journalists so that the public could have access to reliable information. But in this case I cannot help you, because I simply do not know what has really happened. For me, the tragic story of Meucci has become the same revelation as for anyone. The only thing I can say is that I’ve been working independently on my invention. It has been growing ripe in my mind for a long time in the evolutionary manner. And as for Antonio, I never knew him personally. In fact, I haven’t even heard of him until recently.
- What do you mean by "evolutionary manner"? – Both young people asked at the same time.
- Well, perhaps you know that my grandfather, father and uncle were professional rhetoricians. At the age of 16 I already was a teacher of eloquence and music at the Weston House Academy. I attended hundreds of lectures of the outstanding speakers and participated many times in the scientific and social discussions. The issue of the transmission of sounds and speech to the long distances preoccupied my mind and excited my imagination. I always knew that long-distance communication will allow faster information transfer and involve large masses of people in the most important social processes. Therefore, as a young man, I invented an electric piano, adapted to transfer music through the wires. Later I patented a sound-recording phonograph. In the year 1879 I introduced the world's first audiometer - an electric acoustic device for measuring the auditory acuity. After that, for many years I have been financing an experimental school in Washington, where effective methods of teaching the deaf children were developed. Finally, in 1880, I demonstrated the work of my best invention - a photophone. It was able to transmit sounds with the help of light. I'm sure that this is the future of communication!
- That is really exciting! - exclaimed Stephen, who had been silent before. – Now I cannot even imagine how one can explain this whole situation with Meucci?! It is like some magic, isn’t it?
- Everything is possible in this world... – Mr. Bell shrugged thoughtfully. – Probably, two or perhaps even more inventors were standing on the threshold of the same discovery at the same time. And then - fate and concatenation of circumstances played their key role.
- Do you think that circumstances can predetermine the course of historical events so significantly? - Stephen asked with obvious doubts.
- Well, consider this. As it often happens with discoveries, invention of the telephone itself did not foreshadow the intensive development of telephony, which we may observe now. In order to give this innovation an impetus to development and distribution, the entrepreneurship, investments, business contacts, extensive information support and advertising were required. – Mr. Bell thought for a moment and spread his hands. - Therefore, we have established the "Bell company". Then we have initiated cooperation with the "Western Union", and gained support of bankers, industrialists, and high government officials from many countries. Without this work, the invention, just like many thousands of others, could have been ignored for centuries and still lie forgotten in the laboratories and on the shelves of patent offices in the form of blueprints and experimental models.
- It's quite difficult to disagree with you! - Greg exclaimed emotionally. – So can you list any other creations, you are especially proud of?
- You know, I'm absolutely sure that people will remember my inventions and use them for many centuries, because I sincerely tried to create things we all really need... – Mr. Bell stroked thoughtfully his gray beard and once again looked out the window. - Most likely, a sad episode with Mr. Antonio Meucci will always be connected with my name. But I know for sure that for a long time after my death, the National Geographic Society of the United States, where you have the honor to serve, Stephen, as well as the "National Geographic" magazine, both established with my participation, will continue benefiting the people.