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Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell.jpg
Bell c. 1917
Born March 3, 1847
Died August 2, 1922(1922-08-02) (aged 75)
Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, Canada
Citizenship United Kingdom (1847–1922)
British-subject in Canada (1870–1882)
United States (1882–1922)
Alma mater
  • Inventor
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Professora
Teacher of the deaf
Known for Invention of the telephoneb
Mabel Hubbard
(m. 1877)
Children Fourc
  • Alexander Melville Bell
  • Eliza Grace Symonds Bell
  • Gardiner G. Hubbard (father-in-law)
  • David C. Bell (uncle)
  • Gilbert H. Grosvenor (son-in-law)
  • David Fairchild (son-in-law)
  • Melville Bell Grosvenor (grandson)
  • Mabel Grosvenor (granddaughter)
  • A. Graham Bell Fairchild (grandson)
  • Gilbert Grosvenor (great-grandson)
  • Edwin Grosvenor (great-grandson)
  • Chichester Bell (cousin)
  • 1883  NAS Member
  • 1902  Albert Medal
  • 1907  John Fritz Medal
  • 1912  Elliott Cresson Medal
Alexander Graham Bell (signature).svg

Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 - August 2, 1922) was a teacher, scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur. He was the founder of the Bell Telephone Company.

Early life and education

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. His family was known for teaching people how to speak English clearly (elocution). Both his grandfather, Alexander Bell, and his father, Alexander Melville Bell, taught elocution. His father often wrote about this and is most known for his invention and writings of Visible Speech. In his writings, he explained ways of teaching people who were deaf and mute (unable to speak). It also showed how these people could learn to speak words by watching their lips and reading what other people were saying.

Alexander Graham Bell went to the Royal High School of Edinburgh. He graduated at the age of fifteen. At the age of sixteen, he got a job as a student and teacher of elocution and music at Weston House Academy in Elgin, in Morayshire. He spent the next year at the University of Edinburgh. While still in Scotland, he became more interested in the science of sound (acoustics). He hoped to help his deaf mother. From 1866 to 1867, he was a teacher at Somersetshire College in Bath, Somerset.

Move to Canada

In 1870, when he was 23 years old, he moved with his family to Canada where they settled at Brantford, Ontario. Bell began to study communication machines. He made a piano that could be heard far away by using electricity. In 1871, he went with his father to Montreal, Quebec, in Canada, where he took a job teaching about "visible speech." His father was asked to teach about it at a large school for deaf mutes in Boston, Massachusetts, but instead he gave the job to his son. The younger Bell began teaching there in 1872. Alexander Graham Bell soon became famous in the United States for this important work. He published many writings about it in Washington, D.C.. Because of this work, thousands of deaf mutes in the United States of America can now speak, even though they cannot hear.

In 1876, Bell was the first inventor to patent the telephone, and he helped start the Bell Telephone Company with others in July 1877. In 1879, this company joined with the New England Telephone Company to form the National Bell Telephone Company. In 1880, they formed the American Bell Telephone Company, and in 1885, American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), still a large company today. Along with Thomas Edison, Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company on January 25, 1881.


Bell had eighteen patents granted in his name alone. He shared twelve patents with others. These included fifteen for the telephone and telegraph, four for the photophone, one for the phonograph, five for aeronautics, four for hydrofoils, and two for a selenium cell.


In 1874, Bell began working with a musical telegraph, in which he used an electric circuit and a magnet to make an iron reed or tongue vibrate. One day, it was found that a reed failed to respond to the current. Mr. Bell asked his assistant, who was at the other end of the line, to pluck the reed, thinking it had stuck to the magnet. His assistant, Thomas Watson did so. To Bell's, surprise, he heard the corresponding reed at his end of the line vibrate and sound the same - without any electric current to power it. A few experiments soon showed that his reed had been set in vibration by the changes in the magnetic field that the moving reed produced in the line. This discovery led him to stop using the electric battery current. His idea was that, since the circuit was never broken, all the complex vibrations of speech might be converted into currents, which in turn would reproduce the speech at a distance.

Bell, with his assistant, designed a receiver, consisting of a stretched film or drum with a bit of magnetized iron attached to its middle, and free to vibrate in front of the pole of an electromagnet in a circuit with the line. This device was completed on June 2, 1875. On July 7, he instructed his assistant to make a second receiver that could be used with the first, and a few days later they were tried together, at each end of the line, which ran from a room in the inventor's house at Boston to the cellar underneath. Bell, in the room, held one device in his hands, while Watson in the cellar listened at the other. The inventor spoke into his instrument, "Do you understand what I say?" and Mr. Watson rushed back upstairs and answered "Yes." The first successful two-way telephone call was not made until March 10, 1876, when Bell spoke into his device, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you," and Watson answered back and came into the room to see Bell. The first long-distance telephone call was made on August 10, 1876, by Bell from the family home in Brantford, Ontario, to his assistant in Paris, Ontario, about 10 miles (16 km) away.

On March 7, 1876, the U.S. Patent Office gave him patent #174465 for the telephone.

Metal detector

Bell is also credited with the invention of an improved metal detector in 1881 that made sounds when it was near metal. The device was quickly put together in an attempt to find the bullet in the body of U.S. President James Garfield. The metal detector worked but did not find the bullet because of the metal bedframe the President was lying on. Bell gave a full description of his experiments in a paper read before the "American Association for the Advancement of Science" in August 1882.


Bell was an active supporter of the eugenics movement in the United States. He was the honorary president of the "Second International Congress of Eugenics" held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1921.

As a teacher of the deaf, Bell did not want deaf people to teach in schools for the deaf. He was also against the use of sign language. These things mean that he is not appreciated by some deaf people in the present day.

Personal life and death

Bell married Mabel Hubbard on July 11, 1877. The couple had four children, two of whom died shortly after birth. He died of diabetes at his home near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, in 1922.


Alexander Graham Bell quotes

  • "Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus."
  • "Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
  • "A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with - a man is what he makes of himself."
  • “The inventor...looks upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; an idea haunts him.”

Interesting Facts about Alexander Graham Bell

  • Alexander Graham Bell’s mother and wife were deaf.
  • Alexander received a middle name for his eleventh birthday. He asked his father to give him one because his brothers had one.
  • Alexander considered the photophone greater than the telephone.
  • Because he found the telephone distracting and intrusive, he did not like to have one in his study.
  • Alexander directed Helen Keller’s father to Perkins School for the Blind, where he met and hired Anne Sullivan.
  • Bell helped establish the National Geographic Society.
  • Bell helped guide the first controlled plane in Canada, the Silver Dart.
  • Bell invented the world’s fastest speedboat in 1919. The boat set a speed record of 70.86 miles per hour.

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