In the early 20th century, the acoustic guitar was the staple of American rural music. It was both inexpensive and relatively easy to play so it was an important part of black rural music and the blues. Unfortunately with the inclusion of brass, woodwinds and orchestral string instruments, the acoustic guitar was too quiet to be heard. On August 10, 1937, inventor, G.D. Beauchamp and his partner, Adolph Rickenbacher were awarded patent, #2,089.171 for the Rickenbacker Frying Pan, the electric guitar.
They spent more than five years trying to get the patent which proved difficult because much of the description of how the strings vibrate and pick up the sound waves was also how a telephone works. Eventually the partners and their Electro String Corporations were able to get the patent through but by then there were competitors with other inventions that rendered the Frying Pan obsolete.