Innocenzo Manzetti
Innocenzo Manzetti

Museo Manzetti


36 anni di attività

sede associazione:


Viale Federico Chabod, 62

11100 Aosta (Valle d'Aosta)


Tel. 339 3574718

Innocenzo Manzetti

The real telephone inventor


One of the misteries that the history doesn't have solved yet, has been coming back in these months: the real father of telephone.
The scientific world, very superficially, has considered this merely a question between the American, but coming from Scotland, Alexander G. Bell - who registered is own device on 1876 - and the coming from Florence emigrant Antonio Meucci - who registered an advice of patent on 1871 and that, even if he wasn't able to economically utilize it, is considered like the real inventor of telephone, at least by Italian people.
As a result of an infortunate Topolino (Italian Mickey Mouse paper) article, which, with not few American mind, denied Meucci's merits, and following reactions of both the politic world and national press, an unknown personage has apperared in the event. And it's another Italian, from Aosta Valley, Innocenzo Manzetti (Aosta, 1826-1877) who realised an electric device able to transmit human voice, many years before Bell and Meucci.
Manzetti's name like inventor of telephone has been officially supported by both Telecom Italia and especially the authoritative voice of Treccani encyclopedia, which have subscribed what from many time are affirming the undersigned Mauro Caniggia Nicolotti and Luca Poggianti. In fact, since many years, we are doing, with the collaboration of "Centro studi De Tillier" (cultural association which is involved in historical researches), a study about our famous and unknown fellow-citizen, with the purpose to give definitively to Italy, one of the most revolutionary inventions of human history. The research (collected in a book and in an exhibition) has revealed unknown and amazing points of view and it has confirmed what in Aosta it is affirming from more than a century: Innocenzo Manzetti has to be considered, no doubt, the real inventor of telephone.
Ingenious, humble, with few financial means (both that and his loath character prevent to register his telephone), the surveyor Manzetti was known for other realisations, too. Among all, it must be remembered the famous automaton (a sort of modern robot with more than 500 mechanical devices, able to move about and play flute - incredible in 1849!), that caused the interest of scientific world. It was just during the improvement of automation (to give it the chance to speak), that Manzetti was able to transmit the voice at a distance by electricity. Since 1843, Manzetti had that idea, but his first experiments about it, started in 1849 and then they was deeped in the following decade. In 1850, he already realised a first prototype of telephone-device.
The most important date to be remembered is 1865. In the summer of that year, Manzetti presented to the press his telephone and the news was diffused all over the world. Newspapers of Italy, French and even United States, talked about it. Meucci himself, still unknown, heared the news of Manzetti's invention, expressed himself on a Italamerican newspaper like this: "I don't want to deny to Mr Manzetti his invention, but I only want to make someone observe that there could be two thoughts on the same discovery and joining that two ideas it could be possible to arrive to the certainty of a such important thing". Then he described his invention, less functional than Manzetti's one.
Moreover, it seems that A. G. Bell had payed a visit to our inventor who, finding out about the American patent, remembered to have received him in his laboratory: "I seem Mr. Bell has passed to me while I was doing my first experiments. I should have his visiting card, yet.". In effect, Bell's family (Alexander, father's and grandfather's) was very interested to the experiments that, in that years, were done about mechanical phonetic devices. Besides, Bell's father was engaged to show all over the world his complex phonetic device ("the visible speech"). Probably recalled by the amazing news about Manzetti's automaton which was equiped with an artificial mouth (the prototype of telephone), he arrived in Aosta to visit the marvellous "talking machine".
Manzetti died in 1877, few months later the news about Bell's patent (14th February, 1876) spread all over the world. In following years, many scientific, cultural and politic personalities engaged themselves to claim the Manzetti's paternity of telephone. Among most illustrious, let's remember the scientist Padre Denza (the first director of the meteorological observatory of Vatican), Genala (minister of public works of the Italian kingdom) and even the American Tanner (patent attorney of Washington). The latter, in an interesting letter made in November 1885, clearly affirmed the possibility to made Manzetti declared the first inventor of telephone!!!
Intentions keeped like these because suffocated by the increasing weight of the Bell's empire who, in following years, refused by every means - not always legitimate - every attempt to make clarity about the circumstances he obtained the patent. The processes against Meucci are memorable. The latter was defeated in front of a supreme court worried to don't damage the American image. Abuses of power that deserve justice, even if posthumous...

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© Innocenzo Manzetti - Museo Manzetti (associazione culturale) Sede: Viale Federico Chabod, 62 - 11100 Aosta (Valle d'Aosta, Italia, EU) -------- Sito Ufficiale/Site Officiel/Official Site -------- La Sala Museale, invece, è di proprietà della Regione valdostana e si trova sita presso il centro Saint-Bénin al 27 di via Festaz in Aosta.