Exploding The Phone

Exploding The Phone. Before smartphones, back even before the Internet and personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world’s largest machine: the telephone system. Starting with Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary “harmonic telegraph,” by the middle of the twentieth century the phone system had grown into something extraordinary, a web of cutting-edge switching machines and human operators that linked together millions of people like never before. But the network had a billion-dollar flaw, and once people discovered it, things would never be the same.

The Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876

The invention of the telephone is a subject of great controversy, central is which is the patent issued to Alexander Graham Bell on March 7, 1876. Many problems and questions surround this patent, not the least of which was its collision in the Patent Office with a strangely similar invention by archrival Elisha Gray. A flood of lawsuits followed the patent's issue; at one point the government attempted to annul Bell's patent and launched an investigation into how it was granted. From court testimony, contemporary accounts, government documents, and the participants' correspondence, a fascinating story emerges. More than just a tale of rivalry between two inventors, it is the story of how a small group of men made Bell's patent the cornerstone for an emerging telephone monopoly. This book recounts the little-known story in full, relying on original documents (most never before published) to preserve the flavor of the debate and provide an authentic account. Among the several appendices is the "lost copy" of Bell's original patent, the document that precipitated the charge of fraud against the Bell Telephone Company.

Francis Blake: An Inventor’s Life

Accomplished inventor, visionary photographer, philanthropist, and successful businessman, Francis Blake (1850 1913) changed not only the way Americans communicated in the nineteenth century but also quite literally how they saw themselves. His major inventions, the telephone transmitter and innovations in high-speed photography, and his Weston, Massachusetts estate Keewaydin epitomized how a gifted individual of modest circumstances could create and re-create himself during America s Gilded Age. The Blake telephone transmitter became the world standard, and anyone who spoke into Alexander Graham Bell's device in the last twenty years of the nineteenth century also encountered Blake s name, emblazoned on his transmitter. In addition, he invested an enormous amount of his energy, talent, and wealth in his home, originally designed by Charles Follen McKim, and its elaborate grounds. This self-contained compound, which included homes for his in-laws and his children and a complete water system, reflected Blake's passion for precision, beauty, and order. It became his major preoccupation, a place where he could exercise unchallenged mastery.Unfortunately, the fabulous Keewaydin estate did not endure, but thankfully Blake's photographic images remain. Blake's experimental camera work placed him in the forefront of the photographic world in the 1880s. His high-speed photographs remain unsurpassed for their clarity, crispness, and composition, and are as fresh today as when he first snapped them over a hundred years ago. Although little-known today, Blake helped revolutionize photography and transformed the role of the photograph in American society, marking him as a significant figure at the dawn of the twentieth century. His story is a compelling and fascinating chronicle of unbounded energy, independence, and genius.

Treetops: A Memoir About Raising Wonderful Children in an Imperfect World

In this compelling companion volume to her acclaimed memoir Home Before Dark, Susan Cheever once again gives readers a revealing look into her famous family, whose secrets and eccentricities parallel their genius and successes. Set against the backdrop of Treetops, the New Hampshire family retreat where the Cheevers still summer, and going back several generations, this powerful remembrance focuses on Susan Cheever's mother's family, and includes portraits of her great-grandfather, Thomas Watson, who invented the telephone with Alexander Graham Bell, and her grandfather Milton Winternitz, a brilliant doctor who built Yale Medical School. And of course there is her beloved and talented father John Cheever, the accomplished author who became one of the most well-known writers of the century, often using his family as material. Perhaps most riveting about Susan Cheever's second biographical masterpiece is its exploration of the lives of the Cheever women. At once a unique family portrait and the tale of every family, Treetops draws us effortlessly into a fascinating yet endearingly familiar world.

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