- NAME: Alexander Graham Bell
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Linguist, Inventor, Scientist
- BIRTH DATE: March 03, 1847
- DEATH DATE: August 02, 1922
- EDUCATION: Edinburgh Royal High School, Edinburgh University, University College in London
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Edinburgh, Scotland
- PLACE OF DEATH: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Best Known For
Alexander Graham Bell was one of the primary inventors of the telephone, did important work in communication for the deaf and held more than 18 patents.
Thomas Edison - Inventor (4:13)
Watch a short video about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention that would change the way the world communicated forever.
Alexander Graham Bell used all his resources to get Americans to use his new invention, the telephone.
The full biography of Alexander Graham Bell.
The inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture, Thomas Edison was granted 400 patents from 1879 to 1886. Though he changed technology forever, not all of his inventions were successful.
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Between 1865 and 1870, there was much change in the Bell household. In 1865, Melville Bell moved the family to London, and Alexander returned to Weston House Academy to teach. In 1867, Alexander's younger brother, Edward, died of tuberculosis. The following year, Alexander rejoined the family and once again became his father's apprentice. He soon assumed full charge of his father's London operations while Melville lectured in America. During this time, Alexander's own health weakened, and in 1870,
Alexander's older brother, Melville, Jr., also died of complications from tuberculosis.
On his earlier trip to America, Alexander's father discovered its healthier environment, and after the death of Melville, Jr., decided to move the family there. At first, Alexander resisted the move, for he was beginning to establish himself in London. But realizing his own health was in jeopardy, he relented, and in July 1870, the family settled in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. There, Alexander's health improved, and he set up a workshop to continue his study of the human voice.
In 1871, Melville Bell, Sr. was invited to teach at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes. Because the position conflicted with his lecture tour, he recommended Alexander in his place. The younger Bell quickly accepted. Combining his father's system of Visible Speech and some of his own methods, he achieved remarkable success. Though the school had no funds to hire Bell for another semester, he had fallen in love with the rich intellectual atmosphere of Boston. In 1872, he set out on his own, tutoring deaf children in Boston. His association with two students, George Sanders and Mabel Hubbard, would set him on a new course.
After one of his tutoring sessions with Mabel, Bell shared with her father, Gardiner, his ideas of how several telegraph transmissions might be sent on the same wire if they were transmitted on different harmonic frequencies. Hubbard's interest was piqued. He had been trying to find a way to improve telegraph transmissions, which at the time could carry only one message at a time. Hubbard convinced Thomas Sanders, the father of Bell's other student, George, to help financially back the idea.
Between 1873 and 1874, Alexander Graham Bell spent long days and nights trying to perfect the harmonic telegraph. But his attention became sidetracked with another idea: transmitting the human voice over wires. The diversion frustrated Gardiner Hubbard. He knew another inventor, Elisha Gray, was working on a multiple-signal telegraph. To help Bell refocus his efforts, Hubbard hired Thomas Watson, a skilled electrician. Watson understood how to develop the tools and instruments Bell needed to continue the project. But Watson soon took interest in Bell's idea of voice transmission. Like many inventors before and since, the two men formed a great partnership, with Bell as the ideas man and Watson having the expertise to bring Bell's ideas to reality.
Through 1874 and 1875, Bell and Watson labored on both the harmonic telegraph and a voice transmitting device.
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