Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Sir William Henry Preece (15th February 1834 - 6th November 1913)
If he is known today, it is for his resistance to change. As the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography recounts:
As electrician to the Post Office (which was then responsible for all communications in the realm), although he had been the first in Britain to demonstrate a working telephone, he told a parliamentary inquiry in 1879 that he foresaw little demand for the device in Britain, saying the telegraph and a "superabundance of messengers, errand boys and things of that kind" already met the need. Like other Post Office officials, Preece resisted anything that might undercut the existing telegraph system, an attitude that did much to delay the spread of the telephone in Britain.
However, this Welshman (born and died near Caernarfon) was a great administrator and populariser of science and technology.