Thomas Augustus Watson (January 18, 1854 – December 13, 1934) was an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, notably in the invention of the telephone in 1876. He is best known because, as the recipient of the first telephone call - although coming from just the next room - his name became the first words ever said over the phone. "Mr. Watson - Come here - I want to see you," Bell said when first using the new invention, according to Bell's laboratory notebook. There is some dispute about the actual words used, as Thomas Watson, in his own voice, remembered it as "Mr. Watson - Come here - I want you," in a film made for Bell Labs in 1931 which is referenced below in "The Engines of our Ingenuity.
Born in Salem, Massachusetts, United States Watson was a bookkeeper and a carpenter before he found a job more to his liking in the Charles Williams machine shop in Boston. He was then hired by Alexander Graham Bell, who was then a professor at Boston University. They were known for the invention of the telephone.
Watson resigned from the Bell Telephone Company in 1881 at the age of 27. Using money from his royalties from his participation in the invention of the telephone, Watson first tried his hand at farming.He became a fairly successful traveling Shakespearean actor for time and then set up his own machine shop. In 1883 Watson founded the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company. He soon began taking bids for building naval destroyers and by 1901 the Fore River Ship and Engine Company was one of the largest shipyards in America. It would later become one of the major shipyards during World War II, after being purchased by Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
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