February 14, 1876 was a big day for Elisha Gray. That was the day he filed his application for a patent for his revolutionary new invention. His device promised to unite the world as never before by allowing a person to speak to and hear another person miles away by sending the voices through a tiny electrical wire. That miraculous device would be called the telephone.
But wait a minute! Every schoolboy knows that it was Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone. Who is this Elisha Gray fellow?
As it turns out, February 14, 1876 was a big day for Alexander Graham Bell, too. His patent application was filed that day as well — just a couple of hours ahead of Gray’s.
Numerous lawsuits and endless controversy followed, claiming that Gray should be credited as the inventor of the telephone, but in patent law, as in nature, it is the early bird who gets to claim the worm.