Early Bell telephone and terminal panel, 1877.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but emigrated to the United States, settling in Boston where began his career as an inventor. On 7th March 1876, he secured a patent for an electrical speech machine, which he called the telephone. After showing the instrument at the American Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in June, news of Bell's invention spread throughout Europe. He was asked to demonstrate the telephone to Queen Victoria (1819-1901) at her residence, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight in the south of England. On the evening of 14th January 1878 contact was made with nearby Osborne Cottage and terminals in Southampton and London. This telephone and terminal panel were used at Osborne Cottage.