Nova Scotia

First person to ever answer a phone call subject of new book

A Cape Breton publisher is bringing to light the story of Thomas Watson, the man on the other end of Alexander Graham Bell's first phone call.

Thomas Watson was on the other end of Alexander Graham Bell's first phone call

The Birth and Babyhood of the Telephone uses Thomas Watson's words to tell the story of developing the telephone. (Submitted by Cape Breton Books)

A Cape Breton publisher is bringing to light the story of Thomas Watson, the man on the other end of Alexander Graham Bell's first phone call.

The Birth and Babyhood of the Telephone is based on a speech given by Watson in 1913 that tells the story of how the telephone was developed.

"Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you," Bell told Watson, his assistant, on his first phone call in 1876.

At the time, the two were living in the Boston area.

Bell bought a summer home in Cape Breton in 1885 and ended up living there until he died.

Ronald Caplan, publisher at Cape Breton Books, said Watson deserves more credit than being known as the name Bell said during the first phone call.

"It's unfortunate because they were there together, it was the two men who made that telephone possible and history really should record Thomas Watson in his very interesting life," said Caplan.

'A great deal of contribution to his community'

Watson worked with Bell every day developing models for telephones until the project was fully developed.

Caplan said he was encouraged by the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, N.S., to publish the book.

"I knew we would have a prime home for it," said Caplan. "But also, it's just good reading."

The book was edited by Caplan, who then added in historical facts about Watson to add more colour to the story.

Caplan also wanted to highlight the life that Watson lived after the development of the telephone. Watson had used his royalties from the Bell Telephone Company to live the life he always dreamed of.

"He went off and became a Shakespearean actor for a while, travelled the world, did a great deal of contribution to his community," said Caplan.

He said Watson also made it possible for schools in the areas where he lived to have music and art teachers.

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