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Fascinating facts about Alexander Graham Bell inventor of the telephone in 1876.

Alexander Graham Bell
AT A GLANCE:
Alexander Graham Bell, American inventor and teacher of the deaf, most famous for his invention of the telephone. Since the age of 18, Bell had been working on the idea of transmitting speech. In 1874, while working on a multiple telegraph, he developed the basic ideas for the telephone. His experiments with his assistant Thomas Watson finally proved successful on March 10, 1876, when the first complete sentence was transmitted: "Watson, come here; I want you.".
THE STORY
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Inventor: Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell photo courtesy www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca
Criteria; First practical. Modern prototype. Entrepreneur.
Birth: March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland
Death: August 2, 1922, at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada
Nationality: Scottish
Invention: telephone on March 10, 1876
Early telephone photo courtesy www.att.com
Function: noun / tel·e·phone
Definition: An instrument which converts sound, specifically the human voice, to electrical impulses of various frequencies and then back to a tone that sounds like the original voice.
Patent(s): 174,465 (US) issued March 7, 1876 filed February 14, 1876
161,739 (US) issued April 6, 1875 filed March 6, 1875
Milestones:
1872 Bell founded a school for deaf-mutes in Boston, Massachusetts
1874 while working on a multiple telegraph, he developed the basic ideas for the telephon

1875 files first patent for telegraphy
1876
when the first complete sentence was transmitted
1877
formed Bell Telephone Company to operate local telephone exchange operation
1880
invented the photophone, which transmits speech by light rays
1882
acquired a controlling interest in the Western Electric Company, Elisha Gray's company
1885 formed American Telephone and Telegraph Company to operate the long distance network.
1886
first wax recording cylinder, introduced, formed the basis of the modern phonograph.
1896 elected first President of National Geographic Society
1907 he devised a kite capable of carrying a person. With a group of associates
1917 developed "hydrodrome," at (70 mph) the fastest boat in the world for many years
CAPs: Bell, Alexander Graham Bell, Telephone, Bell Telephone Company, AT&T, Bell Labs, Western Electric,
Antonio Meucci, Philip Reis, Elisha Gray, ARYS, telegraphy, telephone, history, biography, inventor, SIPS, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and educated at the universities of Edinburgh and London. He immigrated to Canada in 1870 and to the United States in 1871. In the United States he began teaching deaf-mutes, publicizing the system called visible speech. The system, which was developed by his father, the Scottish educator Alexander Melville Bell, shows how the lips, tongue, and throat are used in the articulation of sound.

In 1872 Bell founded a school for deaf-mutes in Boston, Massachusetts. The school subsequently became part of Boston University, where Bell was appointed professor of vocal physiology. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1882.

Since the age of 18, Bell had been working on the idea of transmitting speech. In 1874, while working on a multiple telegraph, he developed the basic ideas for the telephone. His experiments with his assistant Thomas Watson finally proved successful on March 10, 1876, when the first complete sentence was transmitted: "Watson, come here; I want you." Subsequent demonstrations, particularly one at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced the telephone to the world.

He improved the results with a series of experiments over the next few months, including a critical test with this instrument on November 26. That day he transmitted sound clearly over a wire between Cambridge and Salem, Massachusetts. This design, used for both the transmitter and the receiver, became standard for the commercial instruments introduced in 1877.

In 1877, Bell and his investors Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders formed the Bell Telephone Company to operate local telephone exchange operations.In 1882, American Bell acquired a controlling interest in the Western Electric Company, which became its manufacturing unit. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company was incorporated on March 3, 1885 as a wholly owned subsidiary of American Bell, chartered to build and operate the original long distance telephone network.

In 1880 France bestowed on Bell the Volta Prize, worth 50,000 francs, for his invention. With this money he founded the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where, in that same year, he and his associates invented the photophone, which transmits speech by light rays. Other inventions include the audiometer, used to measure acuity in hearing; the induction balance, used to locate metal objects in human bodies; and the first wax recording cylinder, introduced in 1886. The cylinder, together with the flat wax disc, formed the basis of the modern phonograph.

After 1895 Bell's interest turned mostly to aeronautics. Many of his inventions in this area were first tested near his summer home at Baddeck on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. His study of flight began with the construction of large kites, and in 1907 he devised a kite capable of carrying a person. With a group of associates, including the American inventor and aviator Glenn Hammond Curtiss, Bell developed the aileron, a movable section of an airplane wing that controls roll. They also developed the tricycle landing gear, which first permitted takeoff and landing on a flying field.

Applying the principles of aeronautics to marine propulsion, his group started work on hydrofoil boats, which travel above the water at high speeds. His final full-sized "hydrodrome," developed in 1917, reached speeds in excess of 113 km/h (70 mph) and for many years was the fastest boat in the world. He died on August 2, 1922, at Baddeck, where a museum containing many of his original inventions is maintained by the Canadian government.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
The Entrepreneur    from The Great Idea Finder
The Philanthropist   from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Telephone    from The Great Idea Finder
Communication History   from The Great Idea Finder  

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections
Naomi Pasachoff / Hardcover - 140 pages / Oxford University Press (1996)
This compelling biography of a true scientific visionary charts the course of Bell's remarkable life, showing how his early studies of speech and sound and his experience as an instructor of the deaf--the occupation that he considered to be his true life's work--led to his invention.
Alexander Graham Bell: The Life and Times of the Man Who Invented the Telephone
Edwin S. Grosvenor, Morgan Wesson / Hardcover / Harry N Abrams (1997)
The telephone--his greatest accomplishment and a leading invention of the 19th century--represented only one element in his long and restless career.
The Telephone
by Sarah Gearhart, Toby Welles (Illustrator) / School & Library Binding: 80 pages / Atheneum (1999)

The telephone revolutionized long-distance communication by allowing people to speak with each other quickly, clearly, and affordably. Today, you can send and receive information from virtually anywhere using a wireless telephone, faxes, or E-mail, thanks to Bell's invention of the telephone.
Always Inventing
by Tom L. Matthews, Gilbert M. Grosvenor / Hardcover: 64 pages / National Geographic Soc. (1999)

The primary focus is Bell's inventions, however, the book also tells of his other main interests: his family and the education of the deaf.

ON THE SCREEN:
Alexander Graham Bell (1939)
VHS / Black & White / Closed-captioned / NTSC / Rated: NR / ASIN: 6303957013 / Less than $20
Starring: Don Ameche

Alexander Graham Bell: Voice of Invention  
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / Biography Channel / Less than $25.00
Alexander Graham Bell left his mark on the world with the invention of the telephone. But he might have been a footnote in history if not for his lawyer, who filed for the patent a mere two hours before his rival Elisha Gray, who had also unraveled the mysteries of communicating by wire.
The Telephone
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
Undeniably essential to modern life, the telephone is the most important, influential, and effective communication tool ever developed. Exploring how one man's speaking device has grown into the technological web that links humankind, this thrilling program also revisits the race between Bell and rival Elisha Gray—who was building a similar design but ultimately filed the history-changing patent just two hours after Bell.


ON THE WEB:

Alexander Graham Bell - His Company
The popular BrainSpin series at AT&T explores who was Alexander Graham Bell

Bell Family Papers
The online version of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress will comprise a selection of approximately 4700 items (totaling about 38,000 images).
Bell, Alexander Graham
From the Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia.
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Alexander Graham Bell was inducted in 1974 for his invention "Telegraphy", Patent No. 174,465
Alexander Graham Bell Institute
The insitiute is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and his work.
Invention Dimension - Inventor of he Week

Feature in 2000 for his invention of the Telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
Established in 1890 to empower persons who are hearing impaired to function independently
Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame
To be known just for my invention of the telephone causes me a certain degree of sorrow.
Who Got There First
The actual history of the telephone is a subject of complex dispute. The controversy began with the success of the invention and continues today. Some of the inventors credited with inventing the telephone include Antonio Meucci, Philip Reis, Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell.

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds." - Alexander Graham Bell

"Watson, come here; I want you." -
Alexander Graham Bell, 1876, first complete sentence transmitted


DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Bell was one of the cofounders of the National Geographic Society, and he served as its president from 1896 to 1904. He also founded the Journal of Science in 1883.
  • When Alexander Graham Bell died on August 4, 1922, millions of phones went dead. In Bell's honor, all phones served by the Bell System in the USA and Canada went silent for one minute.
  • Long before Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent application in 1875, Daniel Drawbaugh claimed to have invented the telephone. But since he had no journal or record, the Supreme Court rejected his claims by four votes to three. Alexander Graham Bell had excellent records and was awarded the patent for the telephone.
  • Bell was granted 18 patents in his name, and 12 he shared with collaborators
 
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised May 9, 2006.
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