Learning To Never Let Power Get To Our Head- The First Telephone

Alexander Graham Bell, a name almost everyone’s aware of! 

Well, what would the world have been if the person who invented the telephone didn’t invent it! 

Could you perhaps imagine a day of your life without your phone? 

Difficult right? 

Yeah, we do too, but do you know the kind of difficulties the inventor might have faced when he for the first time created it? 

Well, we obviously can’t include all the incidents of his life in this short article but we can include a small part which inevitably decided the future of a large company. 

Not his but another one! 

What would you do if you encountered an egocentric man who dismisses your invention calling it a toy? 

Walking Down The Lane

Walking Through history, we know the technology we see today didn’t exist then. The smartphones we use to connect with other people were non-existent.

But in the 1860s telegraphs existed for people to communicate with each other. 

One company that dominated the telegraph industry was the Western Union Telegraph Company. 

Established in 1851, the York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company renamed itself to the Western Union Telegraph company after integration with its rival.

Western Union Telegraph company completely controlled the telegraph company during the 1860s to 1950s but had to change its investment from communications to other services after facing financial challenges.

The reason for these financial challenges was the rise of the telephone. 

But do you know that the western union had the chance to actually become the sole supplier for the telephone in its initial days? 

Yes, that’s true. The Western Union had the chance to dominate the communication industry for upcoming years but missed it due to sheer ignorance.

One Fine Day

It was in 1876 when a young man knocked on the doors of the Western Union. 

He showcased his invention which was a device that could transfer vocal sounds across wires through electronic undulations, i.e the telephone. 

This young name was Alexander Graham Bell who wanted to sell the patent for his device to the company for $100000. 

As already mentioned the Western Union at that time was a big corporation that had a 55 million dollar net worth. 

The company had more than 7000 Telegraph offices across the US and its president William Horton was a prominent name in the market.

When he saw the device structure, he reportedly laughed at Bell. His exact words were, ” What could this company make of an electrical toy?” 

Well, the rest of the story is known. 

Bell then started his own telephone company and as people discovered what the telephone could do, they readily started connecting with it, leaving the telegraph behind. 

This proved that what Bell created wasn’t just a mere toy! 

2 years after Bell created his company, Orton committed to his error and even proposed that he’ll like to buy the patent for 25 million now. 

When Bell refused to sell, Orton asked Thomas Edison to come up with a refined version of the telephone, but Alexander Graham Bell took them to court and won.

Western Union was hence stuck to telegraph and never entered the modern market! 

Learning What’s Important

In our last story of Kodak, we learned how it’s important to never ignore the upcoming future. 

In business what’s important is planning for the present, without forgoing what the outcome in the future would be. 

The above incident tells us how to never ignore the power of unconventional things. 

What we might consider a “toy” might turn out to be the future of mankind! 

The Western Union after failing to rise in the communication industry started moving its business to money transfer services. 

Although the company is now the second-largest money transfer provider in the world, what would it have been, if William Orton didn’t ignore the unconventional device he called a toy?

What if he did buy it and employed Thomas Edison to refine it? 

What could 2 genius minds of the period have done if they were given the chance to combine? 

Well, we’ll never know because now that chance is gone, and what we do have is our phones where we connect, all thanks to Alexander Graham Bell for not giving up on his invention! 

It’s important to understand that one should never be satisfied with their status quo. As technological advancements keep being made, business products should keep being improved!