Did you know that Thomas Augustus Watson was born today in 1854? He was Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant and helped with Bell’s telephone experiments. Alexander Graham Bell would design the devices for their experiments and Thomas Watson would build the machines. On March 10, 1876 he became the first person to hear a voice transmitted electrically through a wire. After helping to create the Bell Telephone Company, Thomas Watson also created the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company, which became one of the largest ship building companies in America.
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Supposedly, on March 10, 1876, the words Alexander Graham Bell spoke, were not completely intentional. Their telephone experiment was set up in two separate rooms on separate floors of a house; a wire between the rooms connected the machines. Bell was in one room and Watson in the other. Bell had accidentally spilled some acid on his clothing. He called out for Watson’s help. Both men were surprised that Watson heard Bell’s voice through the wires. The exact words Watson heard are in dispute. Some say Bell said, “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you.” Others say he said, “Mr. Watson – Come here – I want you.”
Later on October 9, 1876, Watson and Bell set up a demonstration to speak to each other via telephones. They were two miles apart and had reporters at both locations. The reporters took notes of the conversation and a transcript of their conversation was printed side-by-side in the newspapers, touting the breakthrough of “Audible speech by telegraph”.
On January 25, 1915, Watson and Bell shared another groundbreaking telephone conversation, this time from New York City to San Francisco.
In 1881, Watson left the Bell Telephone Company. He made attempts at farming, acting in a Shakespearean company, and then started a successful shipbuilding company. His company, the Fore River Ship and Engine Company was one of the largest shipyards in the country.