1876, February 14th

Elisha Gray files an application for a caveat "to transmit the tones of the human voice through a telegraphic circuit and reproduce them at the receiving end of the line so that actual conversations can be carried on by persons at long distances apart. I claim as my invention the art of transmitting vocal sounds telegraphically through an electric circuit."

1876, February 14th

Without Alexander Graham Bell’s knowledge, Gardiner Hubbard (Bell’s soon to be father-in-law) applies for Bell’s patent on "Improvements in Telegraphy". On the application it says, "Be it known that I, Alexander Graham Bell, have invented certain new and useful improvements in telegraphy... The method of and apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically or by causing electrical undulations similar in form to the vibrations of air accompanying the said vocal or other sounds."

1876, February 19th

The U.S. patent office notifies Pollok & Bailey, Bell’s legal firm, of interferences with "a pending caveat".

1876, February 24th & 25th

Mr. Bailey (of Pollok & Bailey) wrote to Acting Commissioner of Patents, Ellis Spear, requesting an investigation.

The next day Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Grey were both notified by Ellis Spear that interference of the pending caveat had been dissolved in favor of Bell.

1876, February 27th

Alexander Graham Bell meets with Zenas Fisk Wilber of the U.S. Patent Office and is allowed to amend his application.

1876, March 7th

U.S. Patent No. 174,465 is issued to Alexander Graham Bell (in one of the most remarkable twists to this story, the patent process should have taken months, but instead only took 3 weeks to grant this patent to Bell).

1877, March 10th

This was the historic day that Thomas Watson heard Alexander Graham Bell shout over their new telephone, "Mr. Watson come here, I want you!" It should be noted that the device used on this day was not the same as the device mentioned in the patent application.

1877, July 9th

The Bell Telephone Company is formed with the issue of 5000 shares of stock. The stock is divided as follows:

1877, August 1st

Alexander Graham Bell married Mabel Hubbard (daughter of Gardiner Hubbard). On his wedding day, Bell gives Mabel all but one of his shares (1,496 shares) in the Bell Telephone Company. Because Gardiner Hubbard held power of attorney for his wife Gertrude and daughter Mabel, he had control of 60% of the shares in the company. Bell ended up with only .02% of the entire Bell Telephone Company and patents.

1877, August

Alexander Graham Bell and Mabel left on their honeymoon to Europe and ended up living in England for 18 months. Upon their return in early 1879, Bell took no further interest in the telephone business.


Bell Telephone Company sues Western Union for patent infringement.

1879, February 17th

The National Bell Telephone Company is formed.

1879, November 10th

Bell Telephone Company wins its patent infringement suit against Western Union in the United States Supreme Court. In the resulting settlement, Western Union gave up its telephone patents and the 56,000 phones it managed, in return for 20% of Bell royalties for the 17 year life of Bell’s patents.

1880, February 20th

As a result of the settlement with Western Union, the National Bell Telephone Company changes its name to American Bell Telephone Company.


American Bell Telephone acquires Western Electric Company, a previous rival and a manufacturer of telephones, and by early 1882, Western Electric, from that day on, produces products exclusively for the Bell Telephone System.

1885, February 28th

American Bell Telephone introduces a new long distance company called American Telephone & Telegraph and from that day on, the Bell Telephone System would be forever known as AT&T.


Bell (Western Electric) introduces two models (No. 1 & No. 2) of the first upright, table top desk set. Both utilize speaking tubes as transmitters. One is a potbelly and one has a very unique swirl design.

1893, March 7th

Alexander Graham Bell’s initial telephone patent, #174,465, for "Improvements in Telegraphy" expires.

1894, January 30th

Bell’s 2nd fundamental telephone patent, #186,787, for “Electric Telegraphy” expires, opening the door to competition. Within a decade, over 12,000 Independent telephone companies went into business across the country to compete with the Bell Telephone System.


Hundreds of manufacturers are producing upright telephones to supply emerging Independent Telephone Companies. During this 10 year window some of the most beautiful upright “candlestick” telephones are created, but their existence is brief. Thousands of telephone companies fail or succumb to the Bell System monopoly, making non-Bell candlesticks extremely rare.


Western Electric manufactures the first desk top cradle phone for Bell (model AA-1). It was made from the base of a candlestick telephone with a cradle and hand set attached. This marked the end of candlestick production in the United States.

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