Although most people believe the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, Congress has revised history on June 17th, 2002, and attributed it to Antonio Meucci, a Florentine inventor.
Meucci invented the telephone in 1849 in Cuba and built it's first practical incarnation in New York in 1860. Due to poor management skills and an inability to communicate in English, however, he was unable to pay for a definite patent, and had to settle for a caveat, or notice of invention. He then contacted the Western Union telegraph company, and arranged for a demonstration of his "talking telegraph", but after two years during which his showing was postponed, when he tried to get his material, he was told that it had been lost.
In 1876, two years later, Bell filed for a patent to the telephone. Meucci tried to protest, but learned that his caveat had been "lost" as well. It ended up being proven that there had been illegal collusion between Bell and the Patent Office. Meucci's death, however, stopped the lawsuit, and Bell came to be known as the inventor of the telephone
Fun fact: Sheila Copps, of the department of Canadian Heritage, deposited a motion stipulating that "Alexander Graham Bell, of Brandford (Ontario) and Baddeck (Nova Scotia), is the inventor of the telephone", on June 21st, 2002. The motion was unanimously accepted by the Canadian Parliament, even though it is completely groundless. Feh.