BOSTON (CBS) — Much of this country’s founding started right here in Massachusetts, including the telephone.
Vincent Valentine runs the Telephone Museum in Waltham where he has the original design from Alexander Graham Bell, which he developed in Boston in a building right near Government Center.
“He dissected a human ear, saw the ear drum and said there’s got to be a way to simulate the human ear and get the sound over electrical current,” according to Valentine.
After a few years of work – Eureka! – that famous moment. It was March 10, 1876 when Bell spilled acid on his pants and called for his assistant, Thomas Watson, who was in the neighboring room.
He said, “Watson, come here, I want you,” but he didn’t realize that the phone was working at that point and Watson heard him in the other room and came in and said, “I heard you.”
The design was called the “gallows phone.”
“Your voice would cause this diaphragm to vibrate, that vibration would move this lever up and down, and that would move this magnet up and down, and the movement of a magnet in a coil generates electric current, so you would have to speak very loudly. You’d have to scream,” Valentine explained.
Web Extra: Selling The First Telephones
Within a few years, Boston-area entrepreneurs had invented a better transmitter to allow for softer speaking, pay phones and telephone numbers, and the rest is history.
Seventy years later in 1946, the microwave oven was invented here when an engineer at Raytheon named Percy Spencer was testing a military-grade magnetron and realized the peanut cluster bar in his pocket had melted.
He quickly discovered the waves from the magnetron had done it. Just a year later, the first commercial microwave hit the market.
Much more recently, another step forward in convenience for our homes. The “Roomba” was invented by iRobot, which is headquartered in Bedford.
The robot vacuum first invented in 2002 and has come a long way from the prototype called “Scamp.”
“This is 2002. Had a very small microcontroller in it. You’re talking a hundred lines of code, of software inside this robot — very small amount to deliver the value you did — but if you now skip forward to the 900 series these have millions of lines of code,” said Chris Jones, VP of technology at iRobot.
That extra processing means the newest models can actually map out your house, create a blueprint, and clean 2,000 square feet.
“It’s able to recognize what it’s seeing or what it’s not seeing, recognizing, helping it figure out where it is as it’s moving around the home,” Jones said.
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One of the other advancements in the Roomba is that it’s now Wi-Fi-enabled, so from your phone you can tell it which days you want it to clean and which times – or you could just tell it, “clean.”
The Roomba microwave and telephone are just the tip of the iceberg.
Invented In Massachusetts [Drag For Next Photo]
Also invented in Massachusetts: disposable razor blades, rubber tires, the electronic voting machine, spreadsheets, Segways, Facebook, even the World Wide Web Consortium was founded in 1994 in Cambridge, meaning we basically invented the web.