Elisha grey was born in Barnesville, Ohio in 1835. He could manage to build a working model of Morse's Telegraph before he turned 10. When he went to college he was intrigued by electricity, and his teacher told him to continue his interest in electricity and telegraphs. He gained most of his smarts from his hands. He quoted "While studying natural philosophy, it was my custom to make and carry with me into the class such apparatus as could be readily constructed and would serve to illustrate the lesson. My habit of actually constructing everything which I saw or read of so far as my facilities would allow was the best possible method of fixing the principles of its operation firmly in my mind". In 1867 Grey got his first patent for an improved telegraph relay which made itself to the varying insulation of the telegraph line. During the rest of his life he was given patents on about 70 other inventions.
Once Grey had submitted a patent application for a multiple harmonic telegraph on February 23, 1875 and then two days later Bell submitted one for his. Bell filed a patent and Grey filed a caveat. Gray later referred to his musical telegraph devices as telephones. Unlike Bell, Gray did not document his sources; therefore, it is hard to be sure where his background knowledge came from.
This model of Bell's first telephone (right) is a duplicate of the instrument through which speech sounds were first transmitted electrically (1875). While Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson worked on the harmonic telegraph at the insistent urging of Hubbard and other backers, Bell went and met Joseph Henry, the respected director of the Smithsonian Institution, who listened to Bell's ideas for a telephone and offered encouraging words. On June 2, 1875,