Alexander Graham Bell – Inventions, Phone and Facts
Who was Alexander Graham Bell?
Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born scientist and inventor best known for inventing the first working telephone in 1876 and founding the Bell Telephone Company in 1877.
Bell’s success has come from his experiences in sound and his family’s pursuit of interest in helping deaf people communicate. Bell worked with Thomas Watson on the phone, although his prodigious intelligence allowed him to work on many other inventions, including flying machines and hydrofoils.
Early childhood and family
Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3, 1847. The second son of Alexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace Symonds Bell, he is named after his paternal grandfather. The middle name “Graham” was added when he was 10 years old.
He had two brothers, Melville James Bell and Edward Charles Bell, both of whom died of tuberculosis.
During his youth, Bell was strongly influenced by his family and surroundings. Bell’s hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland was known as âAthens of the Northâ for its rich artistic and scientific culture.
His grandfather and father were experts in the mechanics of voice and speech. And Bell’s mother, Eliza, has become an accomplished pianist despite her deafness, prompting her to take on great challenges.
Eliza home schooled her son and instilled an endless curiosity about the world around her. He received one year of formal education at a private school and two years at the famous Royal High School in Edinburgh.
Although a mediocre student, Bell displayed a rare ability to solve problems. When he was 12 years old, while playing with a friend in a grain mill, he noticed how slow it was to husk the grain of wheat. He went home and built a device with rotating paddles and nail brushes that easily removed husks from the grain.
Young Alexander was trained from an early age to continue in the family business, but his stubborn nature conflicted with his father’s bossy ways. Seeking a way out, Alexander volunteered to care for his grandfather when he fell ill in 1862.
The elder Bell encouraged the younger Alexander and instilled an appreciation for learning and intellectual pursuits. By the age of 16, Alexander had joined his father in his work with the deaf and quickly took over full responsibility for his father’s operations in London.
On one of his trips to North America, Alexander’s father decided it was a healthier environment and decided to move the family there. At first Alexander resisted, for he was moving to London. He finally gave in after the death of his two brothers from tuberculosis.
In 1870 the family moved to Brantford, Ontario, Canada. There, Alexander set up a workshop to continue his study of the human voice.
On July 11, 1877, Bell married Mable Hubbard, a former student and daughter of Gardiner Hubbard, one of his first funders. Mable had been deaf from early childhood.
Alexander Graham Bell’s inventions
Bell is credited with inventing the telephone; in all, he personally held 18 patents as well as 12 that he shared with collaborators.
On March 10, 1876, after years of hard work, Bell perfected his most famous invention, the telephone, and made his first phone call.
Prior to that, Bell in 1871 began work on a device known as the multiple or harmonic telegraph (a telegraphic transmission of several messages tuned to different frequencies) when he moved to Boston. He found financial support from local investors Thomas Sanders and Gardiner Hubbard.
Between 1873 and 1874, Bell spent long days and nights trying to perfect the harmonic telegraph. But during his experiments, he became interested in another idea, the transmission of the human voice over wires.
Bell’s hijacking frustrated its benefactors, and Thomas Watson, a trained electrician, was hired to refocus Bell on the Harmonic Telegraph. But Watson quickly fell in love with Bell’s idea of ââvoice transmission and the two created a great partnership with Bell being the man of the idea and Watson having the expertise to bring Bell’s ideas to life.
‘Sir. Watson, come here – I want to see you ‘
In 1874 and 1875, Bell and Watson worked on both the harmonic telegraph and a voice transmission device. Although initially frustrated with the hijacking, Bell investors quickly saw the value of voice transmission and filed a patent on the idea.
For the moment the concept was protected, but the device remained to be developed. In 1876, Bell and Watson were finally successful.
Legend has it that Bell overturned a container of transmission fluid and shouted, âMr. Watson, come here, I want to see you. The most likely explanation was that Bell heard a noise on the wire and called Watson. Either way, Watson heard Bell’s voice over the wire and so he got the first phone call.
With this success, Bell began to promote the phone in a series of public demonstrations. At the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Bell presented the phone to the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro, who exclaimed, âMy God, this is talking! Other protests followed, each further away than the last.
The Bell Telephone Company was incorporated on July 9, 1877. In January 1915, Bell was asked to make the first transcontinental telephone call. From New York, he spoke with his former partner Watson in San Francisco.
DOWNLOAD THE BIOGRAPHICAL SHEET OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL
By all accounts, Bell was not a shrewd businessman, and in 1880 he began to turn the business over to Hubbard and others so that he could pursue a wide range of inventions and d intellectual activities.
In 1880, Bell established the Volta Laboratory in Washington, DC, an experimental facility dedicated to scientific discovery.
Later in his life, Bell became fascinated with flight and began to explore the possibilities of machines and flying devices, starting with the tetrahedral kite in the 1890s.
In 1907, Bell formed the Aerial Experiment Association with Glenn Curtiss and several other associates. The group has developed several flying machines, including the Silver dart.
The Silver dart was the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada. Bell then worked on hydrofoils and set a world speed record for this type of boat.
After their marriage in 1877, Alexander and Mable traveled to Europe to demonstrate the telephone. Upon their return to the United States, Bell was summoned to Washington DC to defend his telephone patent against lawsuits.
Others have claimed that they invented the telephone or conceived the idea before Bell. Over the next 18 years, the Bell Company faced more than 550 legal challenges, including several before the Supreme Court, but none were successful.
Even during the patent battles, the business grew. Between 1877 and 1886, over 150,000 people in the United States owned telephones.
Improvements were made to the device, including the addition of a microphone, invented by Thomas Edison, which eliminated the need to shout into the phone to be heard.
Throughout his life, Bell continued his family’s work with the deaf, forming the American Association to Promote Speech Education to the Deaf in 1890.
Eight years later, Bell assumed the chairmanship of a small and little-known American scientific group, the National Geographic Society, and helped make its journal one of the world’s most beloved publications. Bell is also one of the founders of Science magazine.
Bell died peacefully on August 2, 1922 at his home in Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Shortly after his death, the entire telephone system was shut down for a minute in tribute to his genius.