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Graham Bell phone instructions (to his parents) go for $92,000

January 19, 2012 | 12:25 pm


As many a teenager or young adult knows, trying to teach technology-inept parents how to use a phone can seem an exercise in futility. It appears Alexander Graham Bell might have thought so, too -- and his phone couldn't even post to Facebook.

Bell wrote a seven-page letter in 1878 attempting to explain to his parents precisely how to use his new invention. That letter sold for more than $92,000 in a New Hampshire auction this week.

The instructions, complete with elaborate drawings and warnings on the dangers of thunderstorms, were written two years after Bell patented his revolutionary invention.

The device -- absolutely rudimentary by today’s smartphone standards -- needed to be grounded so it wouldn’t be fried by a lightning strike.

“Don’t forget to put a metallic plug in the hole marked A if there is danger of a thunderstorm,” Bell warned.  “This is not necessary for safety but advisable as a protection for the telephone.”

Bidding on the letter by New Hampshire-based RRAuction began last month and ended Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.


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Image: A page of an 1878 letter sent by Alexander Graham Bell to his parents. The drawing and accompanying notes instruct how to ground the telephone Bell invented. Credit: RRAuction / Associated Press