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Behind the Curtain

When the credits come on at the cinema hall, normally, you get up and leave. Why stare at a bunch of names? Credits are just showing how many people truly came together to create the media for you, not just the actors. The same is true for inventions.

Did Edison really invent the light bulb? Did Darwin really come up with the Theory of Evolution?

Many of the famous names we know today are not truly the forces behind their

accomplishments. They have taken ideas and credit from people who worked on the sidelines.

Here is a list of my favorite people who didn’t get the credit they deserved in history –

1) Elisha Gray

You’ve heard that Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the telephone. Along with his

assistant Thomas Watson, Bell invented one of the most influential pieces of communication.

But did he? Mr. Gray also had been creating a telephone that was like Bell’s except it used a

liquid transmitter. On the day of February 14, Mr. Gray got to the patent office before Mr. Bell,

but his paperwork was not a priority there. Some people even claim that Mr. Bell copied some

of Mr. Gray’s work. The patent examiner saw the similarities and suspended Mr. Bell. However,

Bell and his lawyer convinced the examiner that Mr. Gray made a “bad” telephone because of

the liquid transmitter.

2) Joseph Swan

Thomas Edison is credited for the invention of the light bulb. The reality is that there were

many others working to make the light bulb at the same time (and earlier) – the most

influential of which is Joseph Swan. Swan solved a rod problem (that both him and Edison had)

over a year before Edison. Edison used that as a template to make his own light bulb better and

then filed a patent quickly. This goes to show that without Swan, Edison would not have

‘invented’ the light bulb (that worked). There were many other people who attempted to make

the light bulb but failed. The difference between them and Swan is that Swan succeeded but

was robbed from the credit.

3) Alfred Russel Wallace

Charles Darwin is best known for creating theories regarding natural selection. In all truth, he

wouldn’t have gotten to them without his geographer, Alfred Russel. Russel provided the

samples to Darwin and eventually came up with his own theory (that was similar to Darwin’s)

independently from Darwin. He didn’t get the credit because of the Darwin Industry.

4) Rosalind Franklin

Two Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Francis Crick are given the credit for

finding out about the Double Helix in human DNA. Ms. Franklin found this out but wasn’t given

any credit for it. She interpreted an image of the human DNA but was only given “passing

reference” in the credit for the Nobel Prize the pair received. She had passed away by then so

she also couldn’t advocate for her discovery.

History is subjective. What I may have found (on the internet) and believe may be different

than what someone else found and believes. We must consider that history is only written by

those who record it. There may be people who don’t get the credit and have no way of

communicating that. There may also be people who did get the credit they rightly deserved.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about these people who worked ‘behind the curtains’ in



Hemali Gauri


Haas Hall


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