- 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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Hubbard insisted that the harmonic telegraph take precedence, but when he discovered that the two men had conceptualized the mechanism for voice transmission, he filed a patent. The idea was protected, for the time being, but the device still had to be developed. On March 10, 1876, Bell and Watson were experimenting in their laboratory. Legend has it that Bell knocked over a container of transmitting fluid and shouted, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you!
" The more likely explanation was that Bell heard a noise over the wire and called to his assistant. In any case, Watson heard Bell's voice through the wire and thus received the first telephone call.
To further promote the idea of the telephone, Bell conducted a series of public demonstrations, ever increasing the distance between the two telephones. At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, in 1876, Bell demonstrated the telephone to the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, who exclaimed, "My God, it talks!" Other demonstrations followed, each at a greater distance than the last. The Bell Telephone Company was organized on July 9, 1877. With each new success, Alexander Graham Bell was moving out of the shadow of his father.
On July 11, 1877, with his notoriety and financial potential increasing, Alexander Graham Bell married Mabel Hubbard, his former student and the daughter of Gardiner Hubbard, his initial financial backer. Over the course of the next year, Alexander's fame grew internationally and he and Mabel traveled to Europe for more demonstrations. While there, the Bells' first child, Elsie May, was born. Upon their return to the United States, Bell was summoned to Washington D.C. to defend his telephone patent from lawsuits by others claiming they had invented the telephone or had conceived of the idea before Bell.
Over the next 18 years, the Bell Telephone Company faced over 550 court challenges, including several that went to the Supreme Court, but none was successful. Despite these patent battles, the company continued to grow. Between the years 1877 and 1886, the number of people in the United States who owned telephones grew to more than 150,000, and during this time, improvements were made on the device, including the addition of a microphone, invented by Thomas Edison, which eliminated the need to shout into the telephone to be heard.
Despite his success, Alexander Graham Bell was not a businessman. As he became more affluent, he turned over business matters to Hubbard and turned his attention to a wide range of inventions and intellectual pursuits. In 1880, he established the Volta Laboratory, an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery. There, he developed a metal jacket to assist patients with lung problems, conceptualized the process for producing methane gas from waste material, developed a metal detector to locate bullets in bodies and invented an audiometer to test a person's hearing. He also continued to promote efforts to help the deaf, and in 1890, established the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf.
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