Antonio Meucci

On April 13 1808, an inventor was born at Via dei Serragli 44 in the San Frediano region of Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which is now found in the Italian Republic. Antonio Meucci was the eldest child of the nine children to Domenica Pepi and Amatis Meucci.


Antonio’s mother was mainly the housekeeper and his father at times local police member and government clerk. Unfortunately, there were four out of the nine of Meucci’s siblings that did not survive or get through childhood.


In November 1821, Meucci at 15 was admitted to Florence Academy of Fine Arts where he became the youngest student who took up mechanical and chemical engineering. Two years later and due to insufficient funds, he stopped full-time schooling.


The financial crisis did not stop him from continuing his studies by working part-time as an assistant gate-keeper and customs official for the government of Florentine. Later on, Antonio Meucci became employed as a stage technician at the Teatro della Pergola and assisted Artemio Canovetti.


Meucci and his wife immigrated to Cuba in 1835 where he accepted a job at which was at that time, the greatest theater in the Americas. In Havana, he created a water purification system and he reconstructed the Gran Teatro.


On April 13, 1850, Meucci and his wife moved to United States and lived in the Clifton borough of Staten Island, New York. Meucci then decided that they would settle down there for the rest of their lives.


In Staten Island, Meucci helped numerous countrymen obligated to the Italian Unification movement and who had broken out political persecution. He spent his savings in Cuba to build a tallow candle factory which became the first of its kind in the U.S. to intentionally give jobs to the numerous Italian exiles. However, in 1854, his wife Ester became an invalid because of rheumatoid arthritis. Despite it, Antonio Meucci continued with his experiments.

In December 1871 Meucci formed a partnership with three others to promote the telephone invention. They engaged a lawyer to prepare a patent application, but the partners did not provide the $250 fee, so all that was prepared was a caveat, which cost $20.


The lawyer, who did not understand the invention, prepared the caveat hastily and did not include any drawings. The partnership soon dissolved: one partner withdrew, another returned to Italy, and the third died. Meucci was able to find the required $10 to renew his caveat in December 1872, and he did so again the following year.


But he did not have the funds to renew it a third time, so the caveat expired. It was just a year later, in early 1876, that Alexander Graham Bell filed his first telephone patent, and a patent examiner later said that had Meucci’s caveat been renewed, no patent would have been issued to Bell.

On 18 October 1889 Meucci died.  Although he did not succeed in gaining recognition for his telephone invention in his lifetime, he did receive five patents in other areas, including hygrometry and effervescent drinks.