The Birth and the Babyhood of the Telephone

Thomas A. Watson

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ISBN: 9781926908762

The Birth and the Babyhood of the Telephone

A Talk to Telephone Pioneers by The Other Man on the Line

  Author:   Thomas A. Watson    
  Publisher:  Breton Books

The world barely remembers Thomas A. Watson—the man who worked with Alexander Graham Bell every step of the way toward the invention of the telephone.

If we think of Watson at all it is because of the first sentence transmitted over the telephone: “Mr. Watson—come here—I want you.”

But it was Thomas A. Watson who in 1913 could honestly tell The Telephone Pioneers of America that “I made every part of that famous telephone with my own hands.”

Side by side, night and day—even in those hours Bell was away teaching the deaf to earn additional income for their project—Watson was labouring over the telephone, model after model, step by step until they came to a version that actually spoke.

And as the story is told—Mr. Bell invented the telephone—we rarely think of the vital, respectful relationship between these two young men, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson, and what they achieved together. We rarely consider the man who, piece by piece, modified the components and shaped the original talking telephone until the famous phrase came through.

This was an intimate, creative relationship, shared in The Birth and Babyhood of the Telephone. With added portions of Watson’s autobiography, Exploring Life, in this new edition of this little book, we see a young boy’s coming of age as he watches the more sophisticated Bell’s every move, his stature and speech, and even how Bell holds his fork. And Bell in turn is sharing cultural and scientific information with Watson who left school at thirteen—encouraging certain books, a more distinct way of speaking—all part of the relationship that gave birth to the telephone.

And when those first heady days are over—the telephone works, the business is developing—Bell goes off in marriage to Mabel Hubbard and Watson is a wealthy man free to live out his dreams—Watson in particular does not forget. In 1878 he writes to Bell: “Do you ever think of those days”—actually, days and nights of wrestling toward the difficult birth, testing, making changes, stringing wire, collapsing exhausted on cots, depressed with continued failures then elated to the point of agitating their landlandy with their war dance and whoops. “Do you ever think of those days…?” Watson wrote as he was preparing to dismantle the laboratory, the workshop they had shared..

Once having read The Birth and Babyhood of the Telephone, it is no longer enough to say that Mr. Bell invented the telephone without acknowledging Watson’s proud words that “I made every part of that famous telephone with my own hands.”

Details and Specs
ISBN associated with this title: 9781926908762
Item BB0137
PublisherBreton Books
PublisherBreton Books
Published on November 13 2019
Pages 48
Format Paperback
Dimensions9.5(in) x 7.5(in)
Shipping weight128(g)
Born January 18, 1854 in Salem, Massachusetts, Thomas A. Watson was Alexander Graham Bell's assistant, known to most of us for Bell's single sentence, "Watson—Come here—I need you"—the first words transmitted through the telephone in 1876. While Bell was the inventor of the telephone, Thomas A. Watson was the skilled craftsman who brought the telephone to life, building model after model, modifying the components and shaping the original talking telephone until the famous phrase came through on route to the telephone that actually worked. Along the way, he developed a major ship-building business and wrote his autobiography called Exploring Life. And he is remembered in his home village of Braintree, Mass, for his devotion to culture. For example, when the schools couldn't afford art and music teachers, Watson paid their salary. There is a grade school in Braintree named for him. Thomas A. Watson—The Other Man on the Line—died December 1.