21st Century : Masters : Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Bell is best known for his invention of the telephone. Many inventors had been working on the idea of sending human speech by wire, but Bell was the first to succeed.
The invention of the telephone grew out of improvements Bell had made to the telegraph. He had developed the "harmonic telegraph" which could send more than one message at a time over a single telegraph wire. Bell reasoned that it would be possible to pick up all the sounds of the human voice using an adaptation of the "harmonic telegraph." In 1875, along with his assistant Thomas A. Watson, Bell constructed instruments that transmitted recognizable voice-like sounds.
Bell's first telephone patent was granted on March 7, 1876. Three days later he and Watson, located in different rooms, were about to test the new type of transmitter described in his patent. Watson heard Bell's voice saying, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you." Bell had upset a battery, spilling acid on his clothing. He soon forgot the accident in his excitement over the success of the telephone transmitter. The first telephone company, Bell Telephone Company, was founded on July 9, 1877.
After inventing the telephone, Bell continued his experiments in communication. He invented the photophone-transmission of sound on a beam of light, the precursor of fiber-optics. He also invented techniques for teaching speech to the deaf. Bell was granted 18 patents in his name, and 12 he shared with collaborators. Alexander Graham Bell died in Baddek, Nova Scotia, on August 2, 1922.
Article Copyright 2000 http://www.lucidcafe.com and Robin Chew
Bell National Historical Site
Alexander Graham Bell Institute