ELISHA GRAY (1835-1901), American electrician, was born in Barnesville, Belmont county, Ohio, on the 2nd of August 1835. He worked as a carpenter and in a machine shop, reading in physical science at the same time, and for five years studied at Oberlin College, where he taught for a time. He then investigated the subject of telegraphy, and in 1867 patented a telegraphic switch and annunciator. Experimenting in the transmittal of electro-tones and of musical tones by wire, he utilized in 1874 animal tissues in his receivers, and filed, on the 14th of February 1876, a caveat for the invention of a telephone, only a few hours after the filing of an application for a patent by Alexander Graham Bell. (See Telephone.) The caveat was disregarded; letters patent No.174,465 were granted to Bell, whose priority of invention was upheld in 1888 by the United States Supreme Court (see Molecular Telephone Co. v. American Bell Telephone Co., 126 U.S. 1). Gray's experiments won for him high praise and the decoration of the Legion of Honour at the Paris Exposition of 1878. He was for a time a manufacturer of electrical apparatus, particularly of his own inventions; and was chief electrical expert of the Western Electric Company of Chicago. At the Columbian Exposition of 1893 Gray was chairman of the International Congress of Electricians. He died at Newtonville, Massachusetts, on the 21st of January 1901. Among his later inventions were appliances for multiplex telegraphy and the telautograph, a machine for the electric transmission of handwriting. He experimented in the submarine use of electric bells for signalling.
Gray wrote, besides scientific addresses and many monographs, Telegraphy and Telephony (1878) and Electricity and Magnetism (1900).
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