Gray, Elisha, 1835–1901, American inventor, b. Barnesville, Ohio. He patented many electrical devices, most of them having to do with the telegraph. His telautograph (1888) for transmitting handwriting and line drawing was widely used. While experimenting in 1875 with the idea of sending musical notes by wire, as a means of sending several messages simultaneously over the same wire, he hit upon the idea of transmitting the human voice and early in 1876 filed with the patent office a caveat for such an invention. Alexander Graham Bell's final patent had been registered just a few hours before. The Western Union Telegraph Company, which acquired both Gray's and Edison's patents, was defeated by the Bell Telephone Company in one of the most famous patent cases in American litigation. Gray taught at Oberlin College.
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