Simultaneous Invention and Rent Seeking in the Development of Telephony

  •  Samantha J. Wineke    
  •  Steven B. Caudill    
  •  Franklin G. Mixon Jr.    


The concept of “simultaneous invention” describes the idea that inventions are often the result of market changes or incremental progress or innovation, rather than an enlightened moment bestowed upon a single individual. Historical evidence indicates that the development of telephony provides a compelling example of this concept. This study re-examines the development of telephony, also providing a public choice perspective on how Alexander Graham Bell was able to use the U.S. patent system to his advantage. As a result of Bell’s prowess in this regard, other important figures, namely Amos Dolbear and Elisha Gray, who were also involved in the development of telephony, are relatively unknown today.

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