"The inventor of the telephone" Gelnhausen Things to Do Tip by Nemorino
Gelnhausen Things to Do: 33 reviews and 46 photos
1. Bust of Philipp Reis (1834?1874) in Gelnhausen
2. "To Philipp Reis, the inventor of the telephone"
As an experiment I recently asked half a dozen German adults (who happened to be in the same room with me) who invented the telephone. One didn't know, but the others said it was Alexander Graham Bell -- thus confirming my suspicion that the German school system isn't what it used to be.
In former times (until 1933, to be exact), every German schoolchild knew that the telephone was invented not by some foreigner, but by a German physics teacher named Philipp Reis (1834?1874), who was born and raised in Gelnhausen.
French schoolchildren, on the other hand, knew perfectly well that Charles Bourseul (1829-1912) was the inventor of the telephone.
Italian schoolchildren had trouble deciding between Antonio Meucci (1808?1889), who called his invention a "telegrafo parlante" or "talking telegraph", and Innocenzo Manzetti (1826?1877), who also invented a bicycle and a clockwork automaton that could play twelve different arias on the flute, then stand up and bow.
When the Nazis came into power in Germany in 1933 they expunged the name of Philipp Reis from the schoolbooks, not because they had any doubt that he was the inventor of the telephone, but because they thought he was Jewish. (Which he probably wasn't, but never mind.)
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