Volta Laboratory

In 1876, 29-year-old Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for a revolutionary new invention – the telephone.  On one of my recent bike rides I went to the Volta Laboratory, which he founded using money he received for his invention  The laboratory is located at 1537 35th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood of D.C

As early as 1865, Bell conceived the idea of transmitting speech by electric waves. By March 7, 1876, his apparatus was so far developed that he received a patent. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message – the famous “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you” – from Bell to his assistant.

Bell’s patent filing beat a similar claim by Elisha Gray by only two hours. Not wanting to be shut out of the communications market, Western Union Telegraph Company employed Gray and fellow inventor Thomas A. Edison to develop their own telephone technology. Bell sued, and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Bell’s patent rights. In the years to come, the Bell Company withstood repeated legal challenges to emerge as the massive American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and form the foundation of the modern telecommunications industry.

Bell subsequently received the Volta Prize for inventing the telephone. The Volta Prize was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to honor Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist noted for developing the battery. Since that time, the French government has awarded the prize for scientific achievement in electricity. Bell received the third Grand Volta Prize in 1880, with its purse of 50,000 francs (approximately $10,000 at that time, about $250,000 in current dollars). Mr. Bell used the prize money to create institutions in and around D.C., including the Volta Laboratory Association (in 1880, also known as the ‘Volta Laboratory’ and as the ‘Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory’), with his endowment fund (the ‘Volta Fund’), and then in 1887 the ‘Volta Bureau’, which later became the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

Considering the above, I found it interesting that the photos I took while on this ride I took with my phone.  I wonder what Mr. Bell would have thought.

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