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Gray's telephone caveat Schilling and Gray

The Russian born Baron Pavel Schilling is one of the forgotten pioneers of the telegraph. He had developed a working needle telegraph four years before Cooke and Wheatstone - and a working code seven years before Morse.

But Schilling's work in Germany was halted by the government there in 1836 and soon afterwards he died. He had the right idea but in the wrong place and at the wrong time - a little like Elisha Gray.

Gray was the 'nearly' man of the telephone - being out of the running by a couple of hours and one word. The hours were those that separated his visit to the patent office with that of the Bell patent filed by Gardiner Hubbard. The word was 'caveat' which was what Gray called his application. It didn't have quite the same status as a full patent application, which was what Hubbard had just filed for Bell.

Gray's prototype was better and his technology superior to Bell's in many ways. But he wasn't as ready to gamble as Bell and Hubbard - and in the end that was to make the difference.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...