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article imageA Spaniard built the first 'mobile phone' 100 years ago

By Anne Sewell     Jun 30, 2013 in Technology
Piedrabuena - A new book tells the story of how Mónico Sánchez emigrated from Madrid to New York in 1903. He then built an x-ray machine which saved many lives, before starting work on the world's very first mobile phone.
To give his full name, Mónico Sánchez Moreno was a Spanish engineer, born in 1880 in Piedrabuena near Ciudad Real in the Castile-La Mancha region.
According to the Spanish ABC newspaper, Sánchez has recently been hailed as an unsung genius of his generation.
The science and technology website Materia reports that Sánchez was originally marked to most likely to spend his life as an illiterate manual worker or craftsman.
However at 21 years of age, his natural curiosity took him to Madrid where he was hoping to study electrical engineering. Regrettably, on arrival in Spain's capital, he found that the engineering school had closed down due to a strike.
Sánchez, undeterred by the fact that he didn't speak English or have a bachelor's degree, then signed up for a long-distance correspondence course from London, UK.
The new book by physicist Manuel Lozano Leyva called "El Gran Mónico" or in English, "The Great Mónico" tells the inspiring story of the brave young engineer.
In the book we can read that the head of the correspondence course, Joseph Wetzler, was so impressed with Sánchez's brilliance that he actually recommended him for a job in New York.
Thus it was, at the young age of 23, Sánchez headed off to the Big Apple, with a mere $60 in his pocket.
On arrival in New York, Sánchez was qualified to study electricity at the University of Columbia. However, he also started work at the Van Houten and Ten Broeck Company where he designed a portable x-ray machine for hospitals.
The x-ray machine designed by Sánchez, which weighed a mere 10kg, reportedly saved thousands of lives in World War I, and this won him the respect of New York's engineers.
Sánchez joined the Collins Wireless Telephone Company where he worked on a cordless phone with a range of over 100KM. Regrettably, the device tended to overheat and burst into flames after 15 minutes use.
Collins, the owner of the company, attempted to disguise this fault and was later imprisoned for fraud.
Due to the scandal, Sánchez returned home to Spain and invested his money in a center for new technology in his home town of Piedrabuena.
In those times, the town didn't have electricity. However, thanks to Sánchez, when he opened his center and started manufacturing x-ray apparatus the whole town benefited by being connected to the electricity network.
Sánchez continued to work in his center in Piedrabuena until his death in 1961.
More photos of the equipment designed by Sánchez can be viewed in this blog.
More about Spain, Madrid, monico sanchez, monico sanchez moreno, el gran monico
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