Hunnings, Henry (1842-1886)
Henry Hunnings developed significant improvements to the voice transmitters in telephones.
Hunnings was the curate of the parish of Bolton Percy, near York, however he always seemed as interested in fiddling with electrical equipment as he did with the births, deaths and marriages of the village.
Hunnings improved Edison's transmitter designs by replacing solid carbon with crushed carbon granules. This greatly extended the phone's range but not everyone was happy about it.
Edison sent an assistant to check out the device and, liking what he saw, made Hunnings an offer for the rights. Hunnings turned it down, so the Edison team responded with a high-powered court case contesting the patent, claiming it wasn't different enough from the original design.
Hunnings won the first round but was knocked out by the big hitting lawyers in an appeal. In the end Hunnings accepted an offer of 1,000 for the rights and went on Edison's payroll.