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 Thomas Augustus Watson

Thomas Augustus Watson

Birth
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 13 Dec 1934 (aged 80)
Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Burial Weymouth, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 5554 · View Source
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Industrialist. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Phipps and Thomas Russell Watson, a stableman, he dropped out of school at age 14 and took jobs as a bookkeeper and a carpenter before he found something more to his liking in a machine shop in Boston. There he met Alexander Bell, who utilized the shop in his attempts to create an 'harmonic telegraph.' Bell hired Watson as his assistant, and the pair eventually discovered that tones from a vibrating transmitter reed could be carried electrically by wire and audibly recreated. Further experimentation culminated in the famous first telephone call in March 1876: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you,” on machines built and installed by Watson. Several months later, Bell and Watson spoke via telephone while two miles apart. The two men divided their efforts to further develop the telephone and formed Bell Telephone Company in 1877 with Watson serving as head of research and technical development. He built the first telephone switchboard, and between 1877 and 1881, he filed for almost 40 US Patents. Once the business was established, however, he resigned from the company at age 27. Newly wealthy, he founded the Fore River Ship & Engine Company, which began building marine engines and evolved into a large and successful shipyard, eventually taking government contracts for the US Navy's first two 400-ton torpedo ships (destroyers) in 1896. He then founded Braintree Electric Light Company. He retired from the shipyard in 1904, and spent time in the study of geology and paleontology, and eventually had a genus of fossil gastropod named for him. He took theater classes at London University, and joined a company of touring Shakespearean players. In January 1915, he was in San Francisco to receive the first transcontinental telephone call, placed by Alexander Bell from New York City. By that time, more than 13,000,000 telephones were in use worldwide. In 1919, he received a master of arts degree from Union College, and in 1921, a doctor of engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology. In 1926, he published 'Exploring Life', an autobiography. At age 80, he died suddenly a few weeks after returning to his winter home in Florida, having once said of his telephone, that it was “only the beginning ...in this method of communication.”

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 May 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5554
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Augustus Watson (18 Jan 1854–13 Dec 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5554, citing North Weymouth Cemetery, Weymouth, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .