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The Story Of Alexander Graham Bell And The Invention Of The Telephone

Aug 21, 2008
The telephone is one of the most important inventions of the past two hundred years. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847, Alexander Graham Bell immigrated to Canada with his father in 1870 before moving to the United States a year later and becoming a U.S. citizen in 1882. As a young man, Bell studied at the University of Edinburgh, graduated from the University of Toronto and went on to teach vocal physiology at the University of Boston. Bell also tutored private students, including Helen Keller. Both Bell's mother and wife were deaf, a fact that greatly influenced his life's work. It was his focus on speech, hearing and amplification that led Bell to his invention of the telephone.

As a young child, Bell was a curious boy and an avid inventor. At the age of 12, he invented a paddle device that made the task of dehusking wheat simple and efficient. As he grew older, Alexander became fascinated with speech, elocution and hearing. His father, grandfather and uncle were all involved in the study of speech and elocution which, along with a fascination with his mother's deafness, drew him into the field.

Bell started by experimenting with tuning forks, making vowel sounds by mechanical means. From there, he sought to develop a method of creating consonant sounds by those same mechanical means. Bell became fascinated with a method that would translate the human voice into vibrations, vibrations that could be read and transmitted by a machine like the telephone.

In 1875, Bell pushed his work by enlisting Thomas Watson, an electrician, to work with him on his burgeoning invention. Using tuned metal reeds, wire and magnets the two men were able to synchronize a sending telephone with a receiver and reproduce sound. On March 10, 1876, Bell transmitted the first sentence "Watson, come here; I want you" via telephone. The marvelous invention was publicly showcased two months later at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston.

Despite an original contest over the patent application, Bell finally secured it and Alexander Graham Bell's patent for the electric speaking telephone remains today as the single most valuable patent ever issued. In just a few short years, telephones were appearing all over the world and the original Bell Company, founded in 1877, was, thanks to partnerships with Western Union, one of the richest corporations in America.

In his later life, Bell retired to his beloved retreat Beinn Breagh, a home set amongst the pristine beauty of the Bras d'Or Lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Bell continued to invent, working with hydrofoil, aviation and aeronautics. Bell became fascinated with flight and would go on to invent the first hydroplane as well as a number of kites and aeronautical control devices. An avid scientist and supporter of the quest for knowledge, Bell would also found Science magazine and become a founding member and president of the National Geographic Society.

Alexander Graham Bell died in Baddeck, Nova Scotia in August of 1922. He was 75.
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