Thomas Watson, assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, is shown here with a reproduction of the first telephone. The photograph was taken in 1926, the 50th anniversary of the telephone, the patent for which having been filed on March 7, 1876. It was three days later, on March 10th, that Watson became the first person to hear a voice transmitted by telephone. Having spilled acid on his hand, Bell is purported to have cried out “Watson, come here! I want to see you!,” a quotation that has been repeated in several versions, each with a variation on the “I want to see you” part. Unfortunately, Watson had to celebrate the telephone’s first half-century without the man who uttered those famous words, Mr. Bell having died on August 2, 1922.
This photo is sure to have been widely published, having been distributed by the wire services to publishers across the country. By examining the back of the photo we can see that this is a wire service copy, and includes the sort of data typically found on such photos. Dated 3-7-1926, it includes the following description of the photo:
THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TELEPHONE
New York…..Fifty years ago today, March 7th, a patent was granted to Alexander Graham Bell, one of the greatest advances in the scientific world in the 19th century…Above left is shown Alexander Graham Bell as he appeared in 1876, at the time the patents were granted him. At the right is shown Thomas A. Watson, who heard the first words spoken over the telephone by Dr. Bell. Mr. Watson still resides in Boston. Bell’s first words over the phone were “come here Watson, I want you”..