The Legend of Alexander Graham Bell

The LegendOn March 3, 1847, Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Alexander was the second of three sons born to Alexander Melville Bell and his wife Eliza Grace Symonds Bell. The Bell family’s deep roots in the study and development of speech and elocution would forever influence Alexander.

Alexander studied at home with his mother until his tenth year, when he began three years of formal schooling. Bell then spent a year in London with his grandfather, who would inspire Alexander with his studies of the science of sound. During this time, young Alexander attended the famous University of Edinburgh.

At the young age of twenty, Alexander was already a professor at the College of Bath, England. After Alexander’s grandfather died, Alexander went to work with his father on improving methods of teaching the deaf to talk.

From the age of seventeen, Bell’s genius had begun to reveal itself. Bell had experimented with the application of electricity to transmit speech via sound waves. These experiments were later to be used as a foundation for his invention of the telephone. During 1868 and 1870, Bell and his father applied their techniques of visible speech at a school for the deaf in Kensington, England.

As Bell’s work load became heavier his health started to fail. He was also alarmed because he lost both of his brothers to tuberculosis. In late 1870, the Bell family immigrated to Canada, where they settled near Brantford, Ontario. Alexander’s health was restored here and he resumed his work in Boston.

Between 1871 and 1873, Bell continued to tutor the deaf and opened a school to instruct other teachers on schooling the deaf. In 1873, Bell invented and patented the audiometer. It was with this invention that Bell first received formal recognition of his work. Boston University made him professor of Vocal Physiology and the Mechanics of Speech.

Bell spent whatever spare time he had working on a device that would transmit oral sounds via electrical wires, the telephone. Bell had studied the human ear to understand what was needed on the receiving end of an electrical wire. He continued to experiment and became able to send multiple messages over a single wire. It was about this time that Alexander hired Thomas Watson as his technical assistant. The two shared many long nights conducting exhausting experiments.

Although Bell and Watson had been able to produce and transmit sound, it was not until March 10, 1875, that Watson heard the first human voice over electrical wire, “Mr. Watson, come hear, I want to see you.” Rapid improvements were made and during June 1876, they astounded the scientific world with the first public demonstration of voice transmission at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

By the following spring, the first long distance call between New York City and Boston was made. Having patented all the related inventions, Bell formed the Bell Telephone Company. His partners were Thomas Sanders and Gardiner G. Hubbard.

Bell continued to work in related areas and discovered the photo phone to send words by light rays and induction electric probe, the prototype of the x-ray machine. His fascination of powered flight helped him develop the hydrofoil motor boat. While his inventions are too numerous to list, Bell continued to work for the betterment of mankind. He was part of the remarkable generation of American inventors; scientists that help to form our civilization.

On August 2, 1922, death came to Alexander Graham Bell at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. On the day of his funeral, August 4, 1922, all telephones in the United States and Canada were silent for one minute as a tribute to him.

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