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Congressman Vito J. Fossella
13th Congressional District of New York w Staten Island & Brooklyn
1239 Longworth House Office Building w Washington, D.C. 20515 w (202) 225-3371
4434 Amboy Road
w Staten Island, NY 10312 w (718) 356-8400
9818 4th Avenue
w Brooklyn, NY 11209 w (718) 630-5277

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2002 
Contact: Craig Donner (718) 356-5039 
Beeper: (800) 815-2171
www.house.gov/fossella

Rep. Fossella's Resolution Honoring True Inventor of Telephone To Pass House Tonight

Antonio Meucci Receives Recognition 113 Years After His Death

Staten Island, NY -- While history text books laud Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the telephone, it was actually a little-known Italian immigrant from Milan who developed the prototype years before.

Antonio Meucci never received the recognition he deserved during his lifetime, but this evening – 113 years after his death – the House of Representatives is expected to pass a Resolution honoring his contributions and recognizing him as the true inventor of the telephone. The Resolution was authored by Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13).

"Antonio Meucci was a man of vision whose enormous talents led to the invention of the telephone," Fossella said. "Meucci began work on his invention in the mid-1880s, refining and perfecting the telephone during his many years living on Staten Island. His struggles, accomplishments and life personify the true concept of the American dream. And while he did not receive the recognition he deserved during his incredible life, his time has finally come. The U.S. Supreme Court acted appropriately during Mr. Meucci's lifetime, and Congress has acted appropriately today."

Responsible scholarship has shown that the invention of what we know today as the telephone likely took place closer to the middle of the 19th century than its end, when Alexander Graham Bell received his patent. For instance, it is known that Meucci demonstrated his device in 1860, that a description appeared in New York's Italian language newspaper and that Western Union received working models from Meucci but reportedly lost them.

A man of limited means, Meucci was unable to obtain a patten for his invention, instead settling for a one-year renewable notice of an impending patent, first filed in 1871 but which he was unable to pursue after 1874. Bell -- working later in the same laboratory where Meucci's materials had been stored -- was not granted a patent until 1876.

When Meucci heard of Bell's activities, he urged his lawyers to take action. The Supreme Court of the United States eventually agreed to hear the case between Meucci and Bell, and the government was moving to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation. However, Meucci died before the trial commenced, rendering any judgment moot - and the case was discontinued.

Meucci likely first began conceiving the concept of a "talking telegraph" while serving as assistant chief engineer at Florence's famed Teatro della Pergola. He is reported to have begun lab work on the telephone during his stay in Cuba, but refined his invention after settling in the Clifton section of Staten Island. On Staten Island, Meucci put his invention to work, establishing a rudimentary communications link that connected the basement with the first floor of his home.

Fossella's resolution was endorsed by the Order Sons of Italy in America, the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations and the National Italian American Foundation.

John Calvelli, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations and the National Italian American Foundation said, "Congress has sent a message that rings loud and clear recognizing the true inventor of the telephone, Antonio Meucci. We are very pleased that Congress has taken this critical step in acknowledging the true inventor. Meucci's innovation, foresight, and hard work in creating one of the most important inventions in modern history has been overlooked for far too long. Representative Fossella has been a tireless champion of Antonio Meucci's cause – we are grateful for all of his hard work and the work of his colleagues in Congress."
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