Elisha Gray
American inventor

1835 - 1901

Elisha Gray was an American inventor who -- were it not for a few hours -- might have become known as the inventor of the telephone. On Feb. 14, 1876, he went to the United States Patent Office (now the Patent and Trademark Office) and filed a caveat -- a warning to other inventors -- that he was working on a device to transmit speech. However, a few hours earlier, Gardiner G. Hubbard, a partner of American inventor Alexander Graham Bell, had filed a patent application for the telephone on Bell's behalf.

The Western Union Telegraph Company later bought Gray's patents and unsuccessfully challenged Bell's claim. A firm Gray had cofounded, Western Electric Manufacturing Company, made telephone equipment for Western Union. Gray made a fortune from other inventions. He was born in Barnesville, Ohio.

Contributor: Arthur R. Brodsky, M.S.J., Senior Editor, Communications Daily.


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