Alexander Graham Bell surprised to get call asking if he’s been in a gas-powered motorised vehicle accident recently

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From the Archives: 10th March 1876

In a most curious development, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the year’s most remarkable device known as the ‘telephone’, received an unexpected telephonic message yesterday.

However, the caller was not a colleague or acquaintance but rather an inquiring gentleman apparently concerned about any accidents Mr Bell had recently had in a gas-powered motorised vehicle.

Mr Bell was astonished and taken aback by this unexpected intrusion via his latest invention. According to sources close to the inventor, Bell was at home when the ‘telephone’ gave its shrill pronouncement of an incoming message, and he answered it, only to be greeted by the inquisitive stranger on the other end of the line.

The caller identified himself as a representative of a local services company, and proceeded to ask Mr Bell about any recent gas-powered motorised vehicle accidents he may have been involved in.

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Bell was initially confused by the question, as such a motorised device did not sound as if it would even be invented for at least another decade, however the caller was insistent about the accident he believed to have happened, and how he could help Mr Bell make a claim for up to several hundred dollars.

Despite being unamused by the gentleman caller’s insistence, Bell was keen to understand how he had managed to make contact via a device that had only existed for a few days, but was merely told by the caller that he had “been advised that Mr Bell had been in an accident”.

After expressing his disappointment that his latest invention was being used for such trivial and unsolicited purposes, he told the caller that he had not been in an accident and not to call again, which he believed would put an end to the matter for all time. Not just for himself but for the owners of the fifty or so telephones he was hoping to sell.

Bell then returned to his study to begin work on a version of his device that would be capable of transmitting not just voices, but also pictures. However, the project was cancelled after the prototype received what he called an ‘unsolicited genital etching’.