Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

Overview
Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 –August 2, 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone.

Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution
Elocution
Elocution is the study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone.-History:In Western classical rhetoric, elocution was one of the five core disciplines of pronunciation, which was the art of delivering speeches. Orators were trained not only on proper diction, but on the proper...

 and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell's life's work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first US patent
United States patent law
United States patent law was established "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" as provided by the United States Constitution. Congress implemented these...

 for the telephone in 1876.
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Quotations

The final result of our researches has widened the class of substances sensitive to light vibrations, until we can propound the fact of such sensitiveness being a general property of all matter.

Statement to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Boston, Massachusetts (27 August 1880): published as "On the Production and Reproduction of Sound by Light" in American Journal of Sciences, Third Series, vol. XX, n°118 (October 1880), pp. 305- 324.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

As quoted in Sophia's Fire (2005) by Sango Mbella , p. 133

Neither the Army nor the Navy is of any protection, or very little protection, against aerial raids.

As quoted in The Military Quotation Book by James Charlton, p. 37

I begin my work at about nine or ten o'clock in the evening and continue until four or five in the morning. Night is a more quiet time to work. It aids thought.

Perseverance must have some practical end, or it does not avail the man possessing it. A person without a practical end in view becomes a crank or an idiot. Such persons fill our asylums.

I am a believer in unconscious cerebration. The brain is working all the time, though we do not know it. At night it follows up what we think in the daytime. When I have worked a long time on one thing, I make it a point to bring all the facts regarding it together before I retire; I have often been surprised at the results... We are thinking all the time; it is impossible not to think.

Encyclopedia
Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 –August 2, 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone.

Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution
Elocution
Elocution is the study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone.-History:In Western classical rhetoric, elocution was one of the five core disciplines of pronunciation, which was the art of delivering speeches. Orators were trained not only on proper diction, but on the proper...

 and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell's life's work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first US patent
United States patent law
United States patent law was established "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" as provided by the United States Constitution. Congress implemented these...

 for the telephone in 1876. In retrospect, Bell considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.

Many other inventions marked Bell's later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications
Free-space optical communication
Free-space optical communication is an optical communication technology that uses light propagating in free space to transmit data for telecommunications or computer networking."Free space" means air, outer space, vacuum, or something similar...

, hydrofoil
Hydrofoil
A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

s and aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

. In 1888, Alexander Graham Bell became one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

. Bell has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history.

Early years


Alexander Bell was born in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland on March 3, 1847. The family home was at 16 South Charlotte Street, and has a stone inscription, marking it as Alexander Graham Bell's birthplace. He had two brothers: Melville James Bell (1845–70) and Edward Charles Bell (1848–67). Both of his brothers died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. His father was Professor Alexander Melville Bell
Alexander Melville Bell
Alexander Melville Bell was a teacher and researcher of physiological phonetics and was the author of numerous works on orthoepy and elocution....

, and his mother was Eliza Grace (née Symonds). Although he was born "Alexander", at age 10, he made a plea to his father to have a middle name like his two brothers. For his 11th birthday, his father acquiesced and allowed him to adopt the middle name "Graham", chosen out of admiration for Alexander Graham, a Canadian being treated by his father and boarder who had become a family friend. To close relatives and friends he remained "Aleck" which his father continued to call him into later life.

First invention


As a child, young Alexander displayed a natural curiosity about his world, resulting in gathering botanical specimens as well as experimenting even at an early age. His best friend was Ben Herdman, a neighbor whose family operated a flour mill, the scene of many forays. Young Aleck asked what needed to be done at the mill. He was told wheat had to be dehusked through a laborious process and at the age of 12, Bell built a homemade device that combined rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes, creating a simple dehusking machine that was put into operation and used steadily for a number of years. In return, John Herdman gave both boys the run of a small workshop within which to "invent".

From his early years, Bell showed a sensitive nature and a talent for art, poetry and music that was encouraged by his mother. With no formal training, he mastered the piano and became the family's pianist. Despite being normally quiet and introspective, he reveled in mimicry and "voice tricks" akin to ventriloquism
Ventriloquism
Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is an act of stagecraft in which a person manipulates his or her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered "dummy"...

 that continually entertained family guests during their occasional visits. Bell was also deeply affected by his mother's gradual deafness, (she began to lose her hearing when he was 12) and learned a manual finger language so he could sit at her side and tap out silently the conversations swirling around the family parlour. He also developed a technique of speaking in clear, modulated tones directly into his mother's forehead wherein she would hear him with reasonable clarity. Bell's preoccupation with his mother's deafness led him to study acoustics
Acoustics
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics...

.

His family was long associated with the teaching of elocution: his grandfather, Alexander Bell, in London, his uncle in Dublin, and his father, in Edinburgh, were all elocutionists. His father published a variety of works on the subject, several of which are still well known, especially his The Standard Elocutionist (1860), which appeared in Edinburgh in 1868. The Standard Elocutionist appeared in 168 British editions and sold over a quarter of a million copies in the United States alone. In this treatise, his father explains his methods of how to instruct deaf-mute
Deaf-mute
For "deafness", see hearing impairment. For "Deaf" as a cultural term, see Deaf culture. For "inability to speak", see muteness.Deaf-mute is a term which was used historically to identify a person who was both deaf and could not speak...

s (as they were then known) to articulate words and read other people's lip movements to decipher meaning. Aleck's father taught him and his brothers not only to write Visible Speech
Visible Speech
Visible speech is the writing system used by Alexander Melville Bell, who was known internationally as a teacher of speech and proper elocution and an author of books on the subject. The system is composed of symbols that show the position and movement of the throat, tongue, and lips as they...

 but to identify any symbol and its accompanying sound. Aleck became so proficient that he became a part of his father's public demonstrations and astounded audiences with his abilities. He was able to decipher Visible Speech representing virtually every language, including Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Scottish Gaelic and even Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, accurately reciting written tracts without any prior knowledge of their pronunciation.

Education


As a young child, Bell, like his brothers, received his early schooling at home from his father. At an early age, however, he was enrolled at the Royal High School
Royal High School (Edinburgh)
The Royal High School of Edinburgh is a co-educational state school administered by the City of Edinburgh Council. The school was founded in 1128 and is one of the oldest schools in Scotland, and has, throughout its history, been high achieving, consistently attaining well above average exam results...

, Edinburgh, Scotland, which he left at age 15, completing only the first four forms. His school record was undistinguished, marked by absenteeism and lacklustre grades. His main interest remained in the sciences, especially biology, while he treated other school subjects with indifference, to the dismay of his demanding father. Upon leaving school, Bell travelled to London to live with his grandfather, Alexander Bell. During the year he spent with his grandfather, a love of learning was born, with long hours spent in serious discussion and study. The elder Bell took great efforts to have his young pupil learn to speak clearly and with conviction, the attributes that his pupil would need to become a teacher himself. At age 16, Bell secured a position as a "pupil-teacher" of elocution
Elocution
Elocution is the study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone.-History:In Western classical rhetoric, elocution was one of the five core disciplines of pronunciation, which was the art of delivering speeches. Orators were trained not only on proper diction, but on the proper...

 and music, in Weston House Academy, at Elgin, Moray
Elgin, Moray
Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh in Moray, Scotland. It is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town originated to the south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the flood plain. Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190...

, Scotland. Although he was enrolled as a student in Latin and Greek, he instructed classes himself in return for board and £10 per session. The following year, he attended the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

; joining his older brother Melville who had enrolled there the previous year. In 1868, not long before he departed for Canada with his family, Aleck completed his matriculation exams and was accepted for admission to the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

.

First experiments with sound


Bell's father encouraged Aleck's interest in speech and, in 1863, took his sons to see a unique automaton
Automaton
An automaton is a self-operating machine. The word is sometimes used to describe a robot, more specifically an autonomous robot. An alternative spelling, now obsolete, is automation.-Etymology:...

, developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone
Charles Wheatstone
Sir Charles Wheatstone FRS , was an English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era, including the English concertina, the stereoscope , and the Playfair cipher...

 based on the earlier work of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen
Wolfgang von Kempelen
Johann Wolfgang Ritter von Kempelen de Pázmánd was a Hungarian author and inventor with Irish ancestors.-Life:...

. The rudimentary "mechanical man" simulated a human voice. Aleck was fascinated by the machine and after he obtained a copy of von Kempelen's book, published in German, and had laboriously translated it, he and his older brother Melville built their own automaton head. Their father, highly interested in their project, offered to pay for any supplies and spurred the boys on with the enticement of a "big prize" if they were successful. While his brother constructed the throat and larynx
Larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

, Aleck tackled the more difficult task of recreating a realistic skull. His efforts resulted in a remarkably lifelike head that could "speak", albeit only a few words. The boys would carefully adjust the "lips" and when a bellows
Bellows
A bellows is a device for delivering pressurized air in a controlled quantity to a controlled location.Basically, a bellows is a deformable container which has an outlet nozzle. When the volume of the bellows is decreased, the air escapes through the outlet...

 forced air through the windpipe
Vertebrate trachea
In tetrapod anatomy the trachea, or windpipe, is a tube that connects the pharynx or larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air. It is lined with pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells with goblet cells that produce mucus...

, a very recognizable "Mama" ensued, to the delight of neighbors who came to see the Bell invention.

Intrigued by the results of the automaton, Bell continued to experiment with a live subject, the family's Skye Terrier
Skye Terrier
The Skye Terrier is a breed of dog that is a long, low, hardy terrier.-Coat:The Skye is double coated, with a short, soft undercoat and a hard, straight topcoat. The ideal coat length is 5 inches , with no extra credit for a longer coat. The shorter hair of the head veils the forehead and...

, "Trouve". After he taught it to growl continuously, Aleck would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog's lips and vocal cords
Vocal folds
The vocal folds, also known commonly as vocal cords, are composed of twin infoldings of mucous membrane stretched horizontally across the larynx...

 to produce a crude-sounding "Ow ah oo ga ma ma." With little convincing, visitors believed his dog could articulate "How are you grandma?" More indicative of his playful nature, his experiments convinced onlookers that they saw a "talking dog." However, these initial forays into experimentation with sound led Bell to undertake his first serious work on the transmission of sound, using tuning fork
Tuning fork
A tuning fork is an acoustic resonator in the form of a two-pronged fork with the prongs formed from a U-shaped bar of elastic metal . It resonates at a specific constant pitch when set vibrating by striking it against a surface or with an object, and emits a pure musical tone after waiting a...

s to explore resonance
Resonance
In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. These are known as the system's resonant frequencies...

.

At the age of 19, he wrote a report on his work and sent it to philologist Alexander Ellis
Alexander John Ellis
Alexander John Ellis FRS was an English mathematician and philologist. He changed his name from his father's name Sharpe to his mother's maiden name Ellis in 1825, based on a condition for receiving significant financial support from a relative on his mother's side.- Biography :He was born...

, a colleague of his father (who would later be portrayed as Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

). Ellis immediately wrote back indicating that the experiments were similar to existing work in Germany, and also lent Aleck a copy of Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

's work, The Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music.

Dismayed to find that groundbreaking work had already been undertaken by Helmholtz who had conveyed vowel sounds by means of a similar tuning fork "contraption", he pored over the German scientist's book. Working from his own errant mistranslation of the original German edition, Aleck fortuitously then made a deduction that would be the underpinning of all his future work on transmitting sound, reporting: "Without knowing much about the subject, it seemed to me that if vowel sounds could be produced by electrical means, so could consonants, so could articulate speech." He also later remarked: "I thought that Helmhotz had done it ... and that my failure was due only to my ignorance of electricity. It was a valuable blunder ... If I had been able to read German in those days, I might never have commenced my experiments!"

Family tragedy


In 1865, when the Bell family moved to London, Bell returned to Weston House as an assistant master and, in his spare hours, continued experiments on sound using a minimum of laboratory equipment. Bell concentrated on experimenting with electricity to convey sound and later installed a telegraph wire from his room in Somerset College to that of a friend. Throughout late 1867, his health faltered mainly through exhaustion. His younger brother, Edward "Ted," was similarly bed-ridden, suffering from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. While Bell recovered (by then referring to himself in correspondence as "A.G. Bell") and served the next year as an instructor at Somerset College
Somerset College
Somerset College is a non-denominational Christian school located in Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, Australia.- History :Somerset College is one of Australia's leading independent primary and secondary education providers. Established in 1983, Somerset College has achieved a much esteemed position in...

, Bath, England, his brother's condition deteriorated. Edward would never recover. Upon his brother's death, Bell returned home in 1867. His older brother Melville had married and moved out. With aspirations to obtain a degree at the University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

, Bell considered his next years as preparation for the degree examinations, devoting his spare time at his family's residence to studying.

Helping his father in Visible Speech demonstrations and lectures brought Bell to Susanna E. Hull's private school for the deaf in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, London. His first two pupils were "deaf mute" girls who made remarkable progress under his tutelage. While his older brother seemed to achieve success on many fronts including opening his own elocution school, applying for a patent on an invention, and starting a family, Bell continued as a teacher. However, in May 1870, Melville died from complications due to tuberculosis, causing a family crisis. His father had also suffered a debilitating illness earlier in life and had been restored to health by a convalescence in Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

. Bell's parents embarked upon a long-planned move when they realized that their remaining son was also sickly. Acting decisively, Alexander Melville Bell asked Bell to arrange for the sale of all the family property, conclude all of his brother's affairs (Bell took over his last student, curing a pronounced lisp), and join his father and mother in setting out for the "New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

". Reluctantly, Bell also had to conclude a relationship with Marie Eccleston, who, he had surmised, was not prepared to leave England with him.

Canada


In 1870, at age 23, Bell, his brother's widow, Caroline (Margaret Ottaway), and his parents travelled on the SS Nestorian to Canada. After landing at Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

, the Bells boarded a train to Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 and later to Paris, Ontario
Paris, Ontario
Paris, Ontario is a community on the Grand River in Ontario, Canada. The town was established in 1850. In 1999, its town government was amalgamated into that of the County of Brant, Ontario, thus ending about 149 years as a separate incorporated municipality.-History:The town was first settled in...

, to stay with the Reverend Thomas Henderson, a family friend. After a brief stay with the Hendersons, the Bell family purchased a farm of 10.5 acres (42,492 m²) at Tutelo Heights (now called Tutela Heights), near Brantford, Ontario. The property consisted of an orchard, large farm house, stable, pigsty, hen-house and a carriage house
Carriage house
A carriage house, also called remise or coach house, is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages and the related tack.In Great Britain the farm building was called a Cart Shed...

, which bordered the Grand River
Grand River (Ontario)
The Grand River is a large river in southwestern Ontario, Canada. From its source, it flows south through Grand Valley, Fergus, Elora, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris, Brantford, Caledonia, and Cayuga before emptying into the north shore of Lake Erie south of Dunnville at Port Maitland...

.

At the homestead, Bell set up his own workshop in the converted carriage house near to what he called his "dreaming place", a large hollow nestled in trees at the back of the property above the river. Despite his frail condition upon arriving in Canada, Bell found the climate and environs to his liking, and rapidly improved. He continued his interest in the study of the human voice and when he discovered the Six Nations Reserve
Six Nations 40, Ontario
Six Nations is the largest First Nation in Canada with a total of 23,902 band members. 11,865 are reported living in the territory. It is the only territory in North America that has the six Iroquois nations living together. These nations are the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and...

 across the river at Onondaga
Onondaga
- Native American/First Nations :* Onondaga people, a Native American/First Nations people and one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois League* Onondaga , Onondaga settlement and traditional Iroquois capital* Onondaga language- Geology :...

, he learned the Mohawk language
Mohawk language
Mohawk is an Iroquoian language spoken by around 2,000 people of the Mohawk nation in the United States and Canada . Mohawk has the largest number of speakers of the Northern Iroquoian languages; today it is the only one with greater than a thousand remaining...

 and translated its unwritten vocabulary into Visible Speech symbols. For his work, Bell was awarded the title of Honorary Chief and participated in a ceremony where he donned a Mohawk
Mohawk nation
Mohawk are the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois confederation. They call themselves Kanien'gehaga, people of the place of the flint...

 headdress and danced traditional dances.

After setting up his workshop, Bell continued experiments based on Helmholtz's work with electricity and sound. He designed a piano, which, by means of electricity, could transmit its music at a distance. Once the family was settled in, both Bell and his father made plans to establish a teaching practice and in 1871, he accompanied his father to Montreal, where Melville was offered a position to teach his System of Visible Speech.

Work with the deaf


Subsequently, his father was invited by Sarah Fuller, principal of the Boston School for Deaf Mutes (which continues today as the public Horace Mann School for the Deaf
Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is the oldest public day school for the Deaf and hard of hearing in the United States . Located in Allston, Massachusetts, the Horace Mann School is a Boston Public School, and has a rich history of providing quality education for Deaf and...

), in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts, to introduce the Visible Speech System by providing training for Fuller's instructors, but he declined the post, in favor of his son. Traveling to Boston in April 1871, Bell proved successful in training the school's instructors. He was subsequently asked to repeat the program at the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes
American School for the Deaf
The American School for the Deaf is the oldest permanent school for the deaf in the United States. It was founded April 15, 1817 in Hartford, Connecticut by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc and became a state-supported school in 1817.-History:...

 in Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

, Connecticut, and the Clarke School for the Deaf
Clarke School for the Deaf
Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, formerly Clarke School for the Deaf, is a private school located in Northampton, Massachusetts that specializes in educating deaf children using the oral method through the assistance of hearing aids and cochlear implants...

 in Northampton
Northampton, Massachusetts
The city of Northampton is the county seat of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of Northampton's central neighborhoods, was 28,549...

, Massachusetts.

Returning home to Brantford after six months abroad, Bell continued his experiments with his "harmonic telegraph". The basic concept behind his device was that messages could be sent through a single wire if each message was transmitted at a different pitch, but work on both the transmitter and receiver was needed. Unsure of his future, he first contemplated returning to London to complete his studies, but decided to return to Boston as a teacher. His father helped him set up his private practice by contacting Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard was a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was one of the founders of the Bell Telephone Company and the first president of the National Geographic Society.- Biography :...

, the president of the Clarke School for the Deaf for a recommendation. Teaching his father's system, in October 1872 Alexander Bell opened his "School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech" in Boston, which attracted a large number of deaf pupils with his first class numbering 30 students. While he was working as a private tutor, one of his most famous pupils was Helen Keller
Helen Keller
Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree....

, who came to him as a young child unable to see, hear, or speak. She was later to say that Bell dedicated his life to the penetration of that "inhuman silence which separates and estranges."

Several influential people of the time, including Bell, viewed deafness as something that ought to be eradicated, and also believed that with resources and effort they could teach the deaf to speak and avoid the use of sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

, thus enabling their integration within the wider society from which many were often being excluded. However in several schools children were mistreated, for example by having their hands tied behind their backs so they could not communicate by signing —the only language they knew— and were therefore forced to attempt oral communication. Due to his efforts to suppress the teaching of sign language Bell is often viewed negatively by those embracing deaf culture
Deaf culture
Deaf culture describes the social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditions, history, values and shared institutions of communities that are affected by deafness and which use sign languages as the main means of communication. When used as a cultural label, the word deaf is often written with a...

.

Continuing experimentation


In the following year, Bell became professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at the Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 School of Oratory. During this period, he alternated between Boston and Brantford, spending summers in his Canadian home. At Boston University, Bell was "swept up" by the excitement engendered by the many scientists and inventors residing in the city. He continued his research in sound and endeavored to find a way to transmit musical notes and articulate speech, but although absorbed by his experiments, he found it difficult to devote enough time to experimentation. While days and evenings were occupied by his teaching and private classes, Bell began to stay awake late into the night, running experiment after experiment in rented facilities at his boarding house. Keeping up "night owl" hours, he worried that his work would be discovered and took great pains to lock up his notebooks and laboratory equipment. Bell had a specially made table where he could place his notes and equipment inside a locking cover. Worse still, his health deteriorated as he suffered severe headaches. Returning to Boston in fall 1873, Bell made a fateful decision to concentrate on his experiments in sound.

Deciding to give up his lucrative private Boston practice, Bell only retained two students, six-year old "Georgie" Sanders, deaf from birth and 15-year old Mabel Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard , was the daughter of Boston lawyer Gardiner Hubbard—the first president of the Bell Telephone Company...

. Each pupil would serve to play an important role in the next developments. George's father, Thomas Sanders, a wealthy businessman, offered Bell a place to stay at nearby Salem
Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

 with Georgie's grandmother, complete with a room to "experiment". Although the offer was made by George's mother and followed the year-long arrangement in 1872 where her son and his nurse had moved to quarters next to Bell's boarding house, it was clear that Mr. Sanders was backing the proposal. The arrangement was for teacher and student to continue their work together with free room and board thrown in. Mabel was a bright, attractive girl who was ten years his junior but became the object of Bell's affection. Losing her hearing after a near-fatal bout of scarlet fever
Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes. Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics...

 close to her fifth birthday, she had learned to read lips
Lip reading
Lip reading, also known as lipreading or speechreading, is a technique of understanding speech by visually interpreting the movements of the lips, face and tongue with information provided by the context, language, and any residual hearing....

 but her father, Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard was a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was one of the founders of the Bell Telephone Company and the first president of the National Geographic Society.- Biography :...

, Bell's benefactor and personal friend, wanted her to work directly with her teacher.

Telephone


By 1874, Bell's initial work on the harmonic telegraph had entered a formative stage with progress it made both at his new Boston "laboratory" (a rented facility) as well as at his family home in Canada a big success.
While working that summer in Brantford, Bell experimented with a "phonautograph
Phonautograph
The phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact with them, but not of actual sound waves as they propagated through air or other media. Invented...

", a pen-like machine that could draw shapes of sound waves on smoked glass by tracing their vibrations. Bell thought it might be possible to generate undulating electrical currents that corresponded to sound waves. Bell also thought that multiple metal reeds tuned to different frequencies like a harp would be able to convert the undulating currents back into sound. But he had no working model to demonstrate the feasibility of these ideas.

In 1874, telegraph message traffic was rapidly expanding and in the words of Western Union
Western Union
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

 President William Orton, had become "the nervous system of commerce". Orton had contracted with inventors Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

 and Elisha Gray
Elisha Gray
Elisha Gray was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company...

 to find a way to send multiple telegraph messages on each telegraph line to avoid the great cost of constructing new lines. When Bell mentioned to Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders that he was working on a method of sending multiple tones on a telegraph wire using a multi-reed device, the two wealthy patrons began to financially support Bell's experiments. Patent matters would be handled by Hubbard's patent attorney
Patent attorney
A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition...

, Anthony Pollok
Anthony Pollok
Anthony Pollok was an American patent attorney who, with Marcellus Bailey, helped prepare Alexander Graham Bell's patents for the telephone and related inventions.- Biography :...

.

In March 1875, Bell and Pollok visited the famous scientist Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as a founding member of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. During his lifetime, he was highly regarded...

, who was then director of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

, and asked Henry's advice on the electrical multi-reed apparatus that Bell hoped would transmit the human voice by telegraph. Henry replied that Bell had "the germ of a great invention". When Bell said that he did not have the necessary knowledge, Henry replied, "Get it!" That declaration greatly encouraged Bell to keep trying, even though he did not have the equipment needed to continue his experiments, nor the ability to create a working model of his ideas. However, a chance meeting in 1874 between Bell and Thomas A. Watson
Thomas A. Watson
Thomas Augustus Watson was an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, notably in the invention of the telephone in 1876. He is best known because his name was one of the first words spoken over the telephone. "Mr. Watson - Come here - I want to see you." were the first words Bell said using the new...

, an experienced electrical designer and mechanic at the electrical machine shop of Charles Williams, changed all that.

With financial support from Sanders and Hubbard, Bell was able to hire Thomas Watson as his assistant and the two of them experimented with acoustic telegraphy
Acoustic telegraphy
Acoustic telegraphy was also known as harmonic telegraphy. During the late 19th century, inventors developed methods of multiplexing telegraph messages simultaneously over a single telegraph wire by using different audio frequencies or channels, for each message. A telegrapher used a conventional...

. On June 2, 1875, Watson accidentally plucked one of the reeds and Bell, at the receiving end of the wire, heard the overtones of the reed; overtones that would be necessary for transmitting speech. That demonstrated to Bell that only one reed or armature was necessary, not multiple reeds. This led to the "gallows
Gallows
A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered...

" sound-powered telephone
Sound-powered telephone
A sound-powered telephone is a communication device that allows users to talk to each other with the use of a handset, similar to a conventional telephone, but without the use of external power...

, which was able to transmit indistinct, voice-like sounds, but not clear speech.

The race to the patent office


In 1875, Bell developed an acoustic telegraph and drew up a patent application
Patent application
A patent application is a request pending at a patent office for the grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed by that application. An application consists of a description of the invention , together with official forms and correspondence relating to the application...

 for it. Since he had agreed to share U.S. profits with his investors Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, Bell requested that an associate in Ontario, George Brown
George Brown (Canadian politician)
George Brown was a Scottish-born Canadian journalist, politician and one of the Fathers of Confederation...

, attempt to patent it in Britain, instructing his lawyers to apply for a patent in the U.S. only after they received word from Britain (Britain would issue patents only for discoveries not previously patented elsewhere).
Meanwhile, Elisha Gray
Elisha Gray
Elisha Gray was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company...

 was also experimenting with acoustic telegraphy and thought of a way to transmit speech using a water transmitter. On February 14, 1876, Gray filed a caveat
Patent caveat
A patent caveat was a legal document filed with the United States Patent Office. Caveats were instituted by the US Patent Act of 1836, but were discontinued in 1909. A caveat was like a patent application with a description of an invention and drawings, but without claims. It was an official...

 with the U.S. Patent Office for a telephone design that used a water transmitter. That same morning, Bell's lawyer filed Bell's application with the patent office. There is considerable debate about who arrived first and Gray later challenged the primacy of Bell's patent. Bell was in Boston on February 14, 1876.

Bell's patent 174,465, was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876, by the U.S. Patent Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

. Bell's patent covered "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically ... by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound" Bell returned to Boston the same day and the next day resumed work, drawing in his notebook a diagram similar to that in Gray's patent caveat.

On March 10, 1876, three days after his patent was issued, Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work, using a liquid transmitter similar to Gray's design. Vibration of the diaphragm caused a needle to vibrate in the water, varying the electrical resistance
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

 in the circuit. When Bell spoke the famous sentence "Mr Watson—Come here—I want to see you" into the liquid transmitter, Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.

Although Bell was, and still is, accused of stealing the telephone from Gray, Bell used Gray's water transmitter design only after Bell's patent was granted and only as a proof of concept
Proof of concept
A proof of concept or a proof of principle is a realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle, whose purpose is to verify that some concept or theory that has the potential of being used...

 scientific experiment to prove to his own satisfaction that intelligible "articulate speech" (Bell's words) could be electrically transmitted. After March 1876, Bell focused on improving the electromagnetic telephone and never used Gray's liquid transmitter in public demonstrations or commercial use.

The question of priority for the variable resistance feature of the telephone was raised by the Examiner before he approved Bell's patent application. He told Bell that his claim for the variable resistance feature was also described in Gray's caveat. Bell pointed to a variable resistance device in Bell's previous application in which Bell described a cup of mercury, not water. Bell had filed the mercury application at the patent office a year earlier on February 25, 1875, long before Elisha Gray described the water device. In addition, Gray abandoned his caveat, and because Gray did not contest Bell's priority, the Examiner approved Bell's patent on March 3, 1876. Gray had REinvented the variable resistance telephone, but Bell was the first to write down the idea and the first to test it in a telephone.

The patent examiner
Patent clerk
A patent examiner is an employee, usually a civil servant, working at a patent office. Major employers of patent examiners are the European Patent Office , the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Japan Patent Office.-Duties:Patent examiners review patent applications to determine...

, Zenas Fisk Wilber, later stated in a sworn affidavit that he was an alcoholic who was much in debt to Bell's lawyer, Marcellus Bailey
Marcellus Bailey
Marcellus Bailey was an American patent attorney who, with Anthony Pollok, helped prepare Alexander Graham Bell's patents for the telephone and related inventions.-Biography:...

, with whom he had served in the Civil War. He claimed he showed Gray's patent caveat to Bailey. Wilber also claimed (after Bell arrived in Washington D.C. from Boston) that he showed Gray's caveat to Bell and that Bell paid him $100. Bell claimed they discussed the patent only in general terms, although in a letter to Gray, Bell admitted that he learned some of the technical details. Bell denied in a sworn affidavit that he ever gave Wilber any money.

Later developments


Continuing his experiments in Brantford, Bell brought home a working model of his telephone. On August 3, 1876, from the telegraph office in Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant, Brampton, Ontario
Mount Pleasant is an unincorporated community located in northwest portion of Brampton, in the Regional Municipality of Peel in Ontario, Canada. Historically, the community consisted mainly of agricultural lands with a farm named Mount Pleasant...

 five miles (8 km) away from Brantford, Bell sent a tentative telegram indicating that he was ready. With curious onlookers packed into the office as witnesses, faint voices were heard replying. The following night, he amazed guests as well as his family when a message was received at the Bell home from Brantford, four miles (six km) distant along an improvised wire strung up along telegraph lines and fences, and laid through a tunnel. This time, guests at the household distinctly heard people in Brantford reading and singing. These experiments clearly proved that the telephone could work over long distances.

Bell and his partners, Hubbard and Sanders, offered to sell the patent outright to Western Union for $100,000. The president of Western Union balked, countering that the telephone was nothing but a toy. Two years later, he told colleagues that if he could get the patent for $25 million he would consider it a bargain. By then, the Bell company no longer wanted to sell the patent. Bell's investors would become millionaires while he fared well from residuals and at one point had assets of nearly one million dollars.

Bell began a series of public demonstrations and lectures in order to introduce the new invention to the scientific community
Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...

 as well as the general public. Only one day after, his demonstration of an early telephone prototype at the 1876 Centennial Exposition
Centennial Exposition
The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, the first official World's Fair in the United States, was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 10 to November 10, 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. It was officially...

 in Philadelphia made the telephone the featured headline worldwide. Influential visitors to the exhibition included Emperor Pedro II of Brazil
Pedro II of Brazil
Dom Pedro II , nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of...

, and later Bell had the opportunity to demonstrate the invention personally to William Thomson
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, PRSE, was a mathematical physicist and engineer. At the University of Glasgow he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging...

, a renowned Scottish scientist. Later Bell demonstrated the invention to Queen Victoria who had requested a private audience at Osborne House
Osborne House
Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat....

, her Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 home. She called the demonstration "most extraordinary". The enthusiasm surrounding Bell's public displays laid the groundwork for universal acceptance of the revolutionary device.

The Bell Telephone Company
Bell Telephone Company
The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company...

 was created in 1877, and by 1886, over 150,000 people in the U.S. owned telephones. Bell company engineers made numerous other improvements to the telephone, which emerged as one of the most successful products ever. In 1879, the Bell company acquired Edison's patents for the carbon microphone
Carbon microphone
The carbon microphone, also known as a carbon button microphone or a carbon transmitter, is a sound-to-electrical signal transducer consisting of two metal plates separated by granules of carbon. One plate faces outward and acts as a diaphragm...

 from Western Union. This made the telephone practical for long distances and it was no longer necessary to shout to be heard at the receiving telephone.

In January 1915, Bell made the first ceremonial transcontinental telephone call
Telephone call
A telephone call is a connection over a telephone network between the calling party and the called party.-Information transmission:A telephone call may carry ordinary voice transmission using a telephone, data transmission when the calling party and called party are using modems, or facsimile...

. Calling from the AT&T
AT&T
AT&T Inc. is an American multinational telecommunications corporation headquartered in Whitacre Tower, Dallas, Texas, United States. It is the largest provider of mobile telephony and fixed telephony in the United States, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services...

 head office at 15 Dey Street in New York City, Bell was heard by Thomas Watson
Thomas A. Watson
Thomas Augustus Watson was an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, notably in the invention of the telephone in 1876. He is best known because his name was one of the first words spoken over the telephone. "Mr. Watson - Come here - I want to see you." were the first words Bell said using the new...

 at 333 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. The New York Times reported:

Competitors


As is sometimes common in scientific discoveries, simultaneous developments can occur, as evidenced by a number of inventors who were at work on the telephone. Over a period of 18 years, the Bell Telephone Company faced 587 court challenges to its patents, including five that went to the US Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, but none was successful in establishing priority over the original Bell patent and the Bell Telephone Company never lost a case that had proceeded to a final trial stage. Bell's laboratory notes and family letters were the key to establishing a long lineage to his experiments. The Bell company lawyers successfully fought off myriad lawsuits generated initially around the challenges by Elisha Gray and Amos Dolbear
Amos Dolbear
Amos Emerson Dolbear was an American physicist and inventor. His patents interfered with Guglielmo Marconi's planned activities in the U.S. Dolbear researched electrical spark conversion into sound waves and electrical impulses. He was a professor at University of Kentucky in Lexington from 1868...

. In personal correspondence to Bell, both Gray and Dolbear had acknowledged his prior work, which considerably weakened their later claims.

On January 13, 1887, the US Government moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation. After a series of decisions and reversals, the Bell company won a decision in the Supreme Court, though a couple of the original claims from the lower court cases were left undecided. By the time that the trial wound its way through nine years of legal battles, the U.S. prosecuting attorney had died and the two Bell patents (No. 174,465 and dated March 7, 1876 and No. 186,787 dated January 30, 1877) were no longer in effect, although the presiding judges agreed to continue the proceedings due to the case's importance as a "precedent."
Stare decisis
Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions...

 With a change in administration and charges of conflict of interest (on both sides) arising from the original trial, the US Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 dropped the lawsuit on November 30, 1897 leaving several issues undecided on the merits
Merit (legal)
Merits is a legal concept referring to the inherent rights and wrongs of a legal case, absent of any emotional or technical biases. The evidence is solely applied to cases decided on the merits, and any procedural matters are discounted.-External links:*...

.

During a deposition filed for the 1887 trial, Italian inventor Antonio Meucci
Antonio Meucci
Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci was an Italian inventor, a compatriot of revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was best known for developing a voice communication apparatus which several sources credit as the first telephone....

 also claimed to have created the first working model of a telephone in Italy in 1834. In 1886, in the first of three cases in which he was involved, Meucci took the stand as a witness in the hopes of establishing his invention's priority. Meucci's evidence in this case was disputed due to a lack of material evidence for his inventions as his working models were purportedly lost at the laboratory of American District Telegraph
ADT Security Services
ADT Security Services, originally American District Telegraph, now also known as simply ADT, is a division of Tyco International and a worldwide supplier of electronic security systems, fire alarm systems, communication systems, and integrated building management systems.-History:There were many...

 (ADT) of New York, which later, in 1901, was incorporated as a subsidiary of Western Union. Meucci's work, like many other inventors of the period, was based on earlier acoustic principles and despite evidence of earlier experiments, the final case involving Meucci was eventually dropped upon Meucci's death. However, due to the efforts of Congressman Vito Fossella
Vito Fossella
Vito John Fossella, Jr. is a U.S. Republican politician from the state of New York who formerly represented the state's 13th Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms, from 1997 to 2009 serving as the lone Republican from New York City. Fossella, a Staten Island...

, the U.S. House of Representatives on June 11, 2002 stated that Meucci's "work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged", even though this did not put an end to a still contentious issue. Some modern scholars do not agree with the claims that Bell's work on the telephone was influenced by Meucci's inventions.

The value of the Bell patent was acknowledged throughout the world, and patent applications were made in most major countries, but when Bell had delayed the German patent application, the electrical firm of Siemens & Halske (S&H)
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 managed to set up a rival manufacturer of Bell telephones under their own patent. The Siemens company produced near-identical copies of the Bell telephone without having to pay royalties. The establishment of the International Bell Telephone Company
International Bell Telephone Company
The International Bell Telephone Company of Brussels, Belgium, was created in 1879 by the National Bell Telephone Company of Boston, Massachusetts, United States, initially to sell imported telephones and switchboards in Continental Europe....

 in Brussels, Belgium in 1880, as well as a series of agreements in other countries eventually consolidated a global telephone operation. The strain put on Bell by his constant appearances in court, necessitated by the legal battles, eventually resulted in his resignation from the company.

Family life




On July 11, 1877, a few days after the Bell Telephone Company
Bell Telephone Company
The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company...

 was established, Bell married Mabel Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard , was the daughter of Boston lawyer Gardiner Hubbard—the first president of the Bell Telephone Company...

 (1857–1923) at the Hubbard estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

. His wedding present to his bride was to turn over 1,487 of his 1,497 shares in the newly created Bell Telephone Company. Shortly thereafter, the newlyweds embarked on a year-long honeymoon in Europe. During that excursion, Alec took a handmade model of his telephone with him, making it a "working holiday". The courtship had begun years earlier, however Alexander waited until he was more financially secure before marrying. Although the telephone appeared to be an "instant" success, it was not initially a profitable venture and Bell's main sources of income were from lectures until after 1897. One unusual request exacted by his fiancée was that he use "Alec" rather than the family's earlier familiar name of "Aleck." From 1876, he would sign his name "Alec Bell." They had four children: Elsie May Bell (1878–1964) who married Gilbert Grosvenor of National Geographic fame, Marian Hubbard Bell (1880–1962) who was referred to as "Daisy", and two sons who died in infancy. The Bell family home was located in Cambridge, Massachusetts until 1880 when Bell's father-in-law bought a house in Washington, D.C., and later in 1882 bought a home in the same city for Bell's family, so that they could be with him while he attended to the numerous court cases involving patent disputes.

Bell was a British subject
British subject
In British nationality law, the term British subject has at different times had different meanings. The current definition of the term British subject is contained in the British Nationality Act 1981.- Prior to 1949 :...

 throughout his early life in Scotland and later in Canada until 1882, when he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1915, he characterized his status as: "I am not one of those hyphenated Americans who claim allegiance to two countries." Despite this declaration, Bell has been proudly claimed as a "native son" by all three countries he resided in: the United States, Canada and Scotland.
By 1885, a new summer retreat was contemplated. That summer, the Bells had a vacation on Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

 in Nova Scotia, spending time at the small village of Baddeck. Returning in 1886, Bell started building an estate on a point across from Baddeck, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake
Bras d'Or Lake
Bras d'Or Lake is a large body of salt water dominating the centre of Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. Bras d'Or Lake is sometimes referred to as the Bras d'Or Lakes or the Bras d'Or Lakes system, however its official geographic name is Bras d'Or Lake as it is a singular...

. By 1889, a large house, christened The Lodge was completed and two years later, a larger complex of buildings, including a new laboratory, were begun that the Bells would name Beinn Bhreagh (Gaelic: beautiful mountain) after Alec's ancestral Scottish highlands
Scottish Highlands
The Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. The area is sometimes referred to as the "Scottish Highlands". It was culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands...

. Bell would spend his final, and some of his most productive, years in residence in both Washington, D.C., where he and his family initially resided for most of the year, and at Beinn Bhreagh.

Until the end of his life, Bell and his family would alternate between the two homes, but Beinn Bhreagh would, over the next 30 years, become more than a summer home as Bell became so absorbed in his experiments that his annual stays lengthened. Both Mabel and Alec became immersed in the Baddeck community and were accepted by the villagers as "their own". The Bells were still in residence at Beinn Bhreagh when the Halifax Explosion
Halifax Explosion
The Halifax Explosion occurred on Thursday, December 6, 1917, when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in "The Narrows"...

 occurred on December 6, 1917. Mabel and Alec mobilized the community to help victims in Halifax.

Later inventions


Although Alexander Graham Bell is most often associated with the invention of the telephone, his interests were extremely varied. According to one of his biographers, Charlotte Gray
Charlotte Gray (author)
Charlotte Gray, CM is a Canadian historian and author.Born in Sheffield, England and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Gray came to Canada in 1979. She worked for a number of years as a journalist, writing a regular column on national politics for Saturday Night and...

, Bell's work ranged "unfettered across the scientific landscape" and he often went to bed voraciously reading the Encyclopædia Britannica, scouring it for new areas of interest. The range of Bell's inventive genius is represented only in part by the 18 patents granted in his name alone and the 12 he shared with his collaborators. These included 14 for the telephone and telegraph, four for the Photophone
Photophone
The photophone, also known as a radiophone, was invented jointly by Alexander Graham Bell and his then-assistant Charles Sumner Tainter on February 19, 1880, at Bell's 1325 'L' Street laboratory in Washington, D.C...

, one for the phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

, five for aerial vehicles, four for "hydroairplanes" and two for selenium
Selenium
Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, chemical symbol Se, and an atomic mass of 78.96. It is a nonmetal, whose properties are intermediate between those of adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium...

 cells. Bell's inventions spanned a wide range of interests and included a metal jacket to assist in breathing, the audiometer
Audiometer
An audiometer is a machine used for evaluating hearing loss. Audiometers are standard equipment at ENT clinics and in audiology centers. They usually consist of an embedded hardware unit connected to a pair of headphones and a test subject feedback button, sometimes controlled by a standard PC...

 to detect minor hearing problems, a device to locate icebergs, investigations on how to separate salt from seawater, and work on finding alternative fuel
Alternative fuel
Alternative fuels, known as non-conventional or advanced fuels, are any materials or substances that can be used as fuels, other than conventional fuels...

s.

Bell worked extensively in medical research and invented techniques for teaching speech to the deaf. During his Volta Laboratory period, Bell and his associates considered impressing a magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 on a record as a means of reproducing sound. Although the trio briefly experimented with the concept, they were unable to develop a workable prototype. They abandoned the idea, never realizing they had glimpsed a basic principle which would one day find its application in the tape recorder
Tape recorder
An audio tape recorder, tape deck, reel-to-reel tape deck, cassette deck or tape machine is an audio storage device that records and plays back sounds, including articulated voices, usually using magnetic tape, either wound on a reel or in a cassette, for storage...

, the hard disc and floppy disc drive and other magnetic media.

Bell's own home used a primitive form of air conditioning, in which fans blew currents of air across great blocks of ice. He also anticipated modern concerns with fuel shortages and industrial pollution. Methane
Methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

 gas, he reasoned, could be produced from the waste of farms and factories. At his Canadian estate in Nova Scotia, he experimented with composting toilet
Composting toilet
A composting toilet is a dry toilet that using a predominantly aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, via composting or managed aerobic decomposition...

s and devices to capture water from the atmosphere. In a magazine interview published shortly before his death, he reflected on the possibility of using solar panel
Photovoltaic module
A solar panel is a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells...

s to heat houses.

Metal detector


Bell is also credited with the invention of the metal detector
Metal detector
A metal detector is a device which responds to metal that may not be readily apparent.The simplest form of a metal detector consists of an oscillator producing an alternating current that passes through a coil producing an alternating magnetic field...

 in 1881. The device was quickly put together in an attempt to find the bullet in the body of US President James Garfield
James Garfield
James Abram Garfield served as the 20th President of the United States, after completing nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Garfield's accomplishments as President included a controversial resurgence of Presidential authority above Senatorial courtesy in executive...

. The metal detector worked flawlessly in tests but did not find the assassin's bullet partly because the metal bed frame on which the President was lying disturbed the instrument, resulting in static. The president's surgeons, who were skeptical of the device, ignored Bell's requests to move the president to a bed not fitted with metal springs. Alternatively, although Bell had detected a slight sound on his first test, the bullet may have been lodged too deeply to be detected by the crude apparatus. Bell gave a full account of his experiments in a paper read before the American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the...

 (AAAS) in August 1882.

Hydrofoils


The March 1906 Scientific American
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

article by American pioneer William E. Meacham explained the basic principle of hydrofoil
Hydrofoil
A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

s and hydroplanes. Bell considered the invention of the hydroplane as a very significant achievement. Based on information gained from that article he began to sketch concepts of what is now called a hydrofoil boat. Bell and assistant Frederick W. "Casey" Baldwin
Frederick W. Baldwin
Frederick Walker Baldwin , also known as Casey Baldwin, was an engineer and a hydrofoil and aviation pioneer who was also the first Canadian to pilot an aircraft.-Biography:...

 began hydrofoil experimentation in the summer of 1908 as a possible aid to airplane takeoff from water. Baldwin studied the work of the Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini
Enrico Forlanini was an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer, well known for his works on helicopters, aircraft, hydrofoils and dirigibles. He was born in Milan...

 and began testing models. This led him and Bell to the development of practical hydrofoil watercraft.

During his world tour of 1910–11, Bell and Baldwin met with Forlanini in France. They had rides in the Forlanini hydrofoil boat over Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore is a large lake located on the south side of the Alps. It is the second largest of Italy and largest of southern Switzerland. Lake Maggiore is the most westerly of the three great prealpine lakes of Italy, it extends for about 70 km between Locarno and Arona.The climate is mild...

. Baldwin described it as being as smooth as flying. On returning to Baddeck, a number of initial concepts were built as experimental models, including the Dhonnas Beag, the first self-propelled Bell-Baldwin hydrofoil. The experimental boats were essentially proof-of-concept prototypes that culminated in the more substantial HD-4, powered by Renault
Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

 engines. A top speed of 54 miles per hour (86.9 km/h) was achieved, with the hydrofoil exhibiting rapid acceleration, good stability and steering along with the ability to take waves without difficulty. In 1913, Dr. Bell hired Walter Pinaud, a Sydney yacht designer and builder as well as the proprietor of Pinaud's Yacht Yard in Westmount, Nova Scotia
Westmount, Nova Scotia
Westmount is a community in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.-Geography:Located on the west bank of the Sydney River at the point where Sydney Harbour begins, Westmount faces Sydney's downtown. Neighbouring communities include Point Edward, Coxheath and Edwardsville...

 to work on the pontoons of the HD-4. Pinaud soon took over the boatyard at Bell Laboratories on Beinn Bhreagh, Bell's estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Baddeck is a Canadian village in Victoria County, Nova Scotia.It is the county's shire town and is situated on the northern shore of Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island...

. Pinaud's experience in boat-building enabled him to make useful design changes to the HD-4. After the First World War, work began again on the HD-4. Bell's report to the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 permitted him to obtain two 350 horsepower
Horsepower
Horsepower is the name of several units of measurement of power. The most common definitions equal between 735.5 and 750 watts.Horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses in continuous operation. The unit was widely adopted to measure the...

 (260 kW) engines in July 1919. On September 9, 1919, the HD-4 set a world marine speed record of 70.86 miles per hour (114.04 km/h), a record which stood for ten years.

Aeronautics



In 1891, Bell had begun experiments to develop motor-powered heavier-than-air aircraft. The AEA was first formed as Bell shared the vision to fly with his wife, who advised him to seek "young" help as Alexander was at the graceful age of 60.

In 1898, Bell experimented with tetrahedral box kite
Box kite
A box kite is a high-performance kite, noted for developing relatively high lift; it is a type within the family of cellular kites. The typical design has four parallel struts. The box is made rigid with diagonal crossed struts. There are two sails, or ribbons, whose width is about a quarter of the...

s and wings constructed of multiple compound tetrahedral kite
Tetrahedral kite
A tetrahedral kite is a multicelled rigid box kite composed of tetrahedrally shaped cells. The cells are usually arranged in such a way that the entire kite is also a regular tetrahedron. The kite can be described as a compound dihedral kite as well....

s covered in silk. The tetrahedral wings were named Cygnet I, II and III, and were flown both unmanned and manned (Cygnet I crashed during a flight carrying Selfridge) in the period from 1907–1912. Some of Bell's kites are on display at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

Bell was a supporter of aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 research through the Aerial Experiment Association
Aerial Experiment Association
The Aerial Experiment Association was a Canadian aeronautical research group formed on 30 September 1907, under the tutelage of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell...

 (AEA), officially formed at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, in October 1907 at the suggestion of his wife Mabel
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard , was the daughter of Boston lawyer Gardiner Hubbard—the first president of the Bell Telephone Company...

 and with her financial support after the sale of some of her real estate. The AEA was headed by Bell and the founding members were four young men: American Glenn H. Curtiss, a motorcycle manufacturer at the time and who held the title "world's fastest man", having ridden his self-constructed motor bicycle around in the shortest time, and who was later awarded the Scientific American Trophy
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

 for the first official one-kilometre flight in the Western hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

, and who later became a world-renowned airplane manufacturer; Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge
Thomas Selfridge
Thomas Etholen Selfridge was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and the first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane. He was a passenger while Orville Wright was piloting the aircraft.-Biography:...

, an official observer from the US Federal government and the only person in the army who believed aviation was the future; Frederick W. Baldwin
Frederick W. Baldwin
Frederick Walker Baldwin , also known as Casey Baldwin, was an engineer and a hydrofoil and aviation pioneer who was also the first Canadian to pilot an aircraft.-Biography:...

, the first Canadian and first British subject to pilot a public flight in Hammondsport
Hammondsport, New York
Hammondsport is a village in Steuben County, New York, United States. The population was 731 at the 2000 census. The village is named after its founding father.The Village of Hammondsport is in the Town of Urbana and is northeast of Bath, New York....

, New York, and J.A.D. McCurdy —Baldwin and McCurdy being new engineering graduates from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

.

The AEA's work progressed to heavier-than-air machines, applying their knowledge of kites to gliders. Moving to Hammondsport, the group then designed and built the Red Wing
AEA Red Wing
|-References:NotesBibliography*. Retrieved: 19 May 2005.-See also:...

, framed in bamboo and covered in red silk and powered by a small air-cooled
Engine cooling
Internal combustion engine cooling refers to the cooling of an internal combustion engine, typically using either air or a liquid.- Overview :...

 engine. On March 12, 1908, over Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake is an unusual member of New York's Finger Lakes because it is Y-shaped, instead of long and narrow. Because of its shape, it was referred to in the past as Crooked Lake...

, the biplane lifted off on the first public flight in North America. The innovations that were incorporated into this design included a cockpit enclosure and tail rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

 (later variations on the original design would add ailerons as a means of control). One of the AEA's inventions, the aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

, which was also created independently by Robert Esnault-Pelterie
Robert Esnault-Pelterie
Robert Albert Charles Esnault-Pelterie was a pioneering French aircraft designer and spaceflight theorist. He was born in Paris, the son of a textile industrialist...

 and several others, was to become a standard component on all airplanes. The White Wing and June Bug were to follow and by the end of 1908, over 150 flights without mishap had been accomplished. However, the AEA had depleted its initial reserves and only a $15,000 grant from Mrs. Bell allowed it to continue with experiments.

Their final aircraft design, the Silver Dart
AEA Silver Dart
-References:NotesBibliography* Aerial Experimental Association . Aerofiles. . Retrieved: 19 May 2005.* Green, H. Gordon. The Silver Dart: The Authentic Story of the Hon. J.A.D. McCurdy, Canada's First Pilot. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Atlantic Advocate Book, 1959.* Milberry, Larry. Aviation in...

 embodied all of the advancements found in the earlier machines. On February 23, 1909, Bell was present as the Silver Dart flown by J.A.D. McCurdy from the frozen ice of Bras d'Or, made the first aircraft flight in Canada. Bell had worried that the flight was too dangerous and had arranged for a doctor to be on hand. With the successful flight, the AEA disbanded and the Silver Dart would revert to Baldwin and McCurdy who began the Canadian Aerodrome Company and would later demonstrate the aircraft to the Canadian Army.

Eugenics


Bell was connected with the eugenics
Eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

 movement in the United States. In his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 on November 13, 1883 he noted that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children and tentatively suggested that couples where both parties were deaf should not marry. However, it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.-Early life and education:...

's Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders Association. The committee unequivocally extended the principle to man. From 1912 until 1918 he was the chairman of the board of scientific advisers to the Eugenics Record Office
Eugenics Record Office
The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States was a center for eugenics and human heredity research in the first half of the twentieth century. Both its founder, Charles Benedict Davenport, and its director, Harry H...

 associated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit institution with research programs focusing on cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. The Laboratory has a broad educational mission, including the recently established Watson School of Biological Sciences. It...

 in New York, and regularly attended meetings. In 1921, he was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History , located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States, is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world...

 in New York. Organisations such as these advocated passing laws (with success in some states) that established the compulsory sterilization
Compulsory sterilization
Compulsory sterilization also known as forced sterilization programs are government policies which attempt to force people to undergo surgical sterilization...

 of people deemed to be, as Bell called them, a "defective variety of the human race". By the late 1930s, about half the states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, and the California laws were used as a model for eugenics laws in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

Legacy and honors


Honors and tributes flowed to Bell in increasing numbers as his most famous invention became ubiquitous and his personal fame grew. Bell received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, to the point that the requests almost became burdensome. During his life he also received dozens of major awards, medals and other tributes. These included statuary monuments to both him and the new form of communication his telephone created, notably the Bell Telephone Memorial
Bell Telephone Memorial
The Bell Telephone Memorial is a monument commemorating the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1874 at his parent's home in Brantford, Ontario.- History :...

 erected in his honor in Brantford, Ontario's  Alexander Graham Bell Gardens in 1917.

A large number of Bell's writings, personal correspondence, notebooks, papers and other documents reside at both the United States Library of Congress Manuscript Division
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 (as the
Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers), and at the Alexander Graham Bell Institute], Cape Breton University
Cape Breton University
Cape Breton University , formerly the "University College of Cape Breton" , is a Canadian university in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Regional Municipality....

, Nova Scotia; major portions of which are available for online viewing.

A number of historic sites and other marks commemorate Bell in North America and Europe, including the first telephone companies of the United States and Canada. Among the major sites are:
  • Parks Canada
    Parks Canada
    Parks Canada , also known as the Parks Canada Agency , is an agency of the Government of Canada mandated to protect and present nationally significant natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative...

    's Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, which incorporates the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, in Baddeck, Nova Scotia
    Baddeck, Nova Scotia
    Baddeck is a Canadian village in Victoria County, Nova Scotia.It is the county's shire town and is situated on the northern shore of Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island...

    , close to the Bell estate Beinn Bhreagh;
  • The Bell Homestead, also known as Melville House, overlooking Brantford, Ontario and the Grand River
    Grand River (Ontario)
    The Grand River is a large river in southwestern Ontario, Canada. From its source, it flows south through Grand Valley, Fergus, Elora, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris, Brantford, Caledonia, and Cayuga before emptying into the north shore of Lake Erie south of Dunnville at Port Maitland...

    , which was the Bell family's first home in North America;
  • Canada's first telephone company building, the Henderson Home, of the nascent 1877 Bell Telephone Company of Canada, which was carefully relocated in 1969 to the historic Bell Homestead. The Bell Homestead and the Bell Telephone Company Building are both maintained by the Bell Homestead Society in Brantford, Ontario
    Brantford, Ontario
    Brantford is a city located on the Grand River in Southern Ontario, Canada. While geographically surrounded by the County of Brant, the city is politically independent...

    ;
  • The Alexander Graham Bell Memorial Park, which features a broad neoclassical monument built in 1917 by public subscription. The monument graphically depicts mankind's ability to span the globe through telecommunications;
  • The Alexander Graham Bell Museum (opened in 1956), part of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site which was completed in 1978 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia
    Baddeck, Nova Scotia
    Baddeck is a Canadian village in Victoria County, Nova Scotia.It is the county's shire town and is situated on the northern shore of Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island...

    . Many of the museum's artifacts were donated by Bell's daughters;

  • In 1880, Bell received the Volta Prize
    Volta Prize
    The Volta Prize was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801–1802 to honor Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist noted for developing the battery. At that time Alessandro Volta was summoned to Paris to demonstrate his great discovery before the French Academy of Sciences...

     with a purse of 50,000 francs (approximately US$ in today's dollars) for the invention of the telephone from the Académie française
    Académie française
    L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

    , representing the French government. Among the luminaries who judged were Victor Hugo
    Victor Hugo
    Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

     and Alexandre Dumas
    Alexandre Dumas, fils
    Alexandre Dumas, fils was a French author and dramatist. He was the son of Alexandre Dumas, père, also a writer and playwright.-Biography:...

    . The Volta Prize was conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801, and named in honor of Alessandro Volta
    Alessandro Volta
    Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Gerolamo Umberto Volta was a Lombard physicist known especially for the invention of the battery in 1800.-Early life and works:...

    , with Bell receiving the third grand prize in its history. Since Bell was becoming increasingly affluent, he used his prize money to create endowment funds (the 'Volta Fund') and institutions in and around the United States capital of Washington, D.C.. These included the prestigious 'Volta Laboratory Association' (1880), also known as the Volta Laboratory and as the 'Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory', and which eventually led to the Volta Bureau (1887) as a center for studies on deafness which is still in operation in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
    Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
    Georgetown is a neighborhood located in northwest Washington, D.C., situated along the Potomac River. Founded in 1751, the port of Georgetown predated the establishment of the federal district and the City of Washington by 40 years...

     The Volta Laboratory became an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery, and the very next year invented a wax phonograph cylinder that was later used by Thomas Edison; The laboratory was also the site where he and his associate invented his 'proudest achievement', the Photophone
    Photophone
    The photophone, also known as a radiophone, was invented jointly by Alexander Graham Bell and his then-assistant Charles Sumner Tainter on February 19, 1880, at Bell's 1325 'L' Street laboratory in Washington, D.C...

    , the
    optical telephone which presaged fibre optical telecommunications
    Fiber-optic communication
    Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information...

    , while the Volta Bureau would later evolve into the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, also known as AG Bell, is a resource, support network and advocate for listening, learning, talking and living independently with hearing loss...

     (the AG Bell), a leading center for the research and pedagogy of deafness.


In partnership with Gardiner Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Gardiner Greene Hubbard was a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was one of the founders of the Bell Telephone Company and the first president of the National Geographic Society.- Biography :...

, Bell helped establish the publication Science
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

 during the early 1880s. In 1888, Bell was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society and became its second president (1897–1904), and also became a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 (1898–1922). The French government conferred on him the decoration of the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 (Legion of Honor); the Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 in London awarded him the Albert Medal
Albert Medal (RSA)
The Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts was instituted in 1864 as a memorial to Prince Albert, who had been President of the Society for 18 years. It was first awarded in 1864 for "distinguished merit in promoting Arts, Manufactures and Commerce"...

 in 1902; and the University of Würzburg
University of Würzburg
The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

, Bavaria, granted him a PhD He was awarded the Franklin Institute
Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...

's Elliott Cresson Medal
Elliott Cresson Medal
The Elliott Cresson Medal, also known as the Elliott Cresson Gold Medal, was the highest award given by the Franklin Institute. The award was established by Elliott Cresson, life member of the Franklin Institute, with $1,000 granted in 1848...

 in 1912. He was one of the founders of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
American Institute of Electrical Engineers
The American Institute of Electrical Engineers was a United States based organization of electrical engineers that existed between 1884 and 1963, when it merged with the Institute of Radio Engineers to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers .- History :The 1884 founders of the...

 in 1884, and served as its president from 1891-92. Bell was later awarded the AIEE's Edison Medal in 1914 "For meritorious achievement in the invention of the telephone."

The bel (B) and the smaller decibel (dB) are units of measurement
Units of measurement
A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude of a physical quantity, defined and adopted by convention and/or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same physical quantity. Any other value of the physical quantity can be expressed as a simple multiple of the unit of...

 of sound intensity
Sound intensity
Sound intensity or acoustic intensity is defined as the sound power Pac per unit area A. The usual context is the noise measurement of sound intensity in the air at a listener's location.-Acoustic intensity:...

 invented by Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

 and named after him. Since 1976 the IEEE's Alexander Graham Bell Medal
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal is an award honoring "exceptional contributions to the advancement of communications sciences and engineering" in the field of telecommunications...

 has been awarded to honor outstanding contributions in the field of telecommunications.
In 1940 the US Post Office
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 issued a commemorative stamp honoring Bell in its 'Famous Americans Series'. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held on October 28 in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where Bell spent considerable time on research and working with the deaf. The Bell stamp became very popular and sold out in little time. The stamp became, and remains to this day, the most valuable one of the series.

The 150th anniversary of Bell's birth in 1997 was marked by a special issue of commemorative £1 banknotes from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The illustrations on the reverse of the note include Bell's face in profile, his signature, and objects from Bell's life and career: users of the telephone over the ages; an audio wave signal
Waveform
Waveform means the shape and form of a signal such as a wave moving in a physical medium or an abstract representation.In many cases the medium in which the wave is being propagated does not permit a direct visual image of the form. In these cases, the term 'waveform' refers to the shape of a graph...

; a diagram of a telephone receiver; geometric shapes from engineering structures; representations of sign language and the phonetic alphabet; the geese which helped him to understand flight; and the sheep which he studied to understand genetics. Additionally, the Government of Canada honored Bell in 1997 with a C$100 gold coin, in tribute also to the 150th anniversary of his birth, and with a silver dollar coin in 2009 to honor of the 100th anniversary of flight in Canada. That first flight was made by an airplane designed under Dr. Bell's tutelage, named the Silver Dart Bell's image, and also those of his many inventions have graced paper money, coinage and postal stamps in numerous countries worldwide for many dozens of years.

Bell's name is widely known and still used as part of the names of dozens of educational institutes, corporate namesakes, street and place names around the world. Alexander Graham Bell was also ranked 57th among the 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

 (2002) in an official BBC nationwide poll, and among the Top Ten Greatest Canadians
The Greatest Canadian
Officially launched on April 5, 2004, The Greatest Canadian was a television program series by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to determine who is considered to be the greatest Canadian of all time, at least among those who watched and participated in the program...

 (2004), and the 100 Greatest Americans
The Greatest American
The Greatest American was a four-part American television series hosted by Matt Lauer in 2005. The show featured biographies and lists of influential persons in U.S. history, and culminated in a contest in which millions in the audience nominated and voted for the person they felt was the "greatest...

 (2005). In 2006, Bell was also named as one of the 10 greatest Scottish scientists in history after having been listed in the National Library of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland is the legal deposit library of Scotland and is one of the country's National Collections. It is based in a collection of buildings in Edinburgh city centre. The headquarters is on George IV Bridge, between the Old Town and the university quarter...

's 'Scottish Science Hall of Fame'.

Honorary degrees


Alexander Graham Bell, who was unable to complete the university program of his youth, received numerous Honorary Degrees from academic institutions, including:
  • Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. (PhD) in 1880
  • Harvard University
    Harvard University
    Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

     in Cambridge, Massachusetts (LL.D) in 1896
  • University of Würzburg
    University of Würzburg
    The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

     in Würzburg, Bavaria (PhD) in 1902
  • University of Edinburgh
    University of Edinburgh
    The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

     in Edinburgh, Scotland (LL.D) in April 1906
  • Queen's University
    Queen's University
    Queen's University, , is a public research university located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Founded on 16 October 1841, the university pre-dates the founding of Canada by 26 years. Queen's holds more more than of land throughout Ontario as well as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England...

     in Kingston, Ontario in 1909
  • Dartmouth College
    Dartmouth College
    Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The institution comprises a liberal arts college, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business, as well as 19 graduate programs in the arts and sciences...

     in Hanover, New Hampshire (LL.D) on June 25, 1913

Death


Bell died of complications arising from diabetes on August 2, 1922, at his private estate, Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, at age 75. Bell had also been afflicted with pernicious anemia
Pernicious anemia
Pernicious anemia is one of many types of the larger family of megaloblastic anemias...

. His last view of the land he had inhabited was by moonlight on his mountain estate at 2:00 A.M. While tending to her husband after his long illness, Mabel whispered, "Don't leave me." By way of reply, Bell traced the sign for no—and then he expired.

On learning of Bell's death, Canadian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948...

 cabled Mrs. Bell, saying:
[The Government expresses] to you our sense of the world's loss in the death of your distinguished husband. It will ever be a source of pride to our country that the great invention, with which his name is immortally associated, is a part of its history. On the behalf of the citizens of Canada, may I extend to you an expression of our combined gratitude and sympathy.


Bell's coffin was constructed of Beinn Bhreagh pine by his laboratory staff, lined with the same red silk fabric used in his tetrahedral kite experiments. In order to help celebrate his life, his wife asked guests not to wear black (the traditional funeral color) while attending his service, during which soloist Jean MacDonald sang a verse of Robert Louis Stevenson's
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His best-known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

 'Requiem':
Under a wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die

And I lay me down with a will.


Upon the conclusion of Bell's funeral, "every phone on the continent of North America was silenced in honor of the man who had given to mankind the means for direct communication at a distance".

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell was buried atop Beinn Bhreagh mountain, on his estate where he had resided increasingly for the last 35 years of his life, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake. He was survived by his wife Mabel
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard
Mabel Gardiner Hubbard , was the daughter of Boston lawyer Gardiner Hubbard—the first president of the Bell Telephone Company...

 and his two daughters, Elsie May and Marion.

See also

  • Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, also known as AG Bell, is a resource, support network and advocate for listening, learning, talking and living independently with hearing loss...

  • Berliner, Emile
    Emile Berliner
    Emile Berliner or Emil Berliner was a German-born American inventor. He is best known for developing the disc record gramophone...

  • Bourseul, Charles
    Charles Bourseul
    Charles Bourseul was a pioneer in development of the "make and break" telephone about 20 years before Bell made a practical telephone....

  • Canadian Parliamentary Motion on Alexander Graham Bell
    Canadian Parliamentary Motion on Alexander Graham Bell
    The Canadian Parliamentary Motion on Alexander Graham Bell, in the first session of Canada's 37th Parliament was unanimously passed by all four parties of its federal government on June 21, 2002, to affirm that Alexander Graham Bell, who had lived in both Brantford, Ontario and Baddeck, Nova Scotia...

  • IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
    IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
    The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal is an award honoring "exceptional contributions to the advancement of communications sciences and engineering" in the field of telecommunications...

  • Manzetti, Innocenzo
    Innocenzo Manzetti
    Innocenzo Vincenzo Bartolomeo Luigi Carlo Manzetti was an Italian inventor born in Aosta. Following his primary school studies he went to the Jesuit-run Saint Bénin Boarding School and then on to Turin where he was awarded a diploma in land surveying before returning to Aosta.- Automaton :In 1849...

  • Meucci, Antonio
    Antonio Meucci
    Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci was an Italian inventor, a compatriot of revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was best known for developing a voice communication apparatus which several sources credit as the first telephone....

  • Oriental Telephone Company
    Oriental Telephone Company
    The Oriental Telephone Company "was established on January 25, 1881, as the result of an agreement between Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Oriental Bell Telephone Company of New York and the Anglo-Indian Telephone Company, Ltd. The company was licensed to sell telephones in Greece,...

  • Reis, Philipp
  • The Telephone Cases
    The Telephone Cases
    The Telephone Cases were a series of U.S. court cases in the 1870s and 1880s related to the invention of the telephone, which culminated in the 1888 decision of the United States Supreme Court upholding the priority of the patents belonging to Alexander Graham Bell...

  • Volta Laboratory and Bureau

External links



Patents


U.S. patent images in TIFF format Improvement in Transmitters and Receivers for Electric Telegraphs, filed March 1875, issued April 1875 (multiplexing signals on a single wire) Improvement in Telegraphy, filed February 14, 1876, issued March 7, 1876 (Bell's first telephone patent) Improvement in Telephonic Telegraph Receivers, filed April 1876, issued June 1876 Improvement in Generating Electric Currents (using rotating permanent magnets), filed August 1876, issued August 1876 Electric Telegraphy (permanent magnet receiver), filed January 15, 1877, issued January 30, 1877 Apparatus for Signalling and Communicating, called Photophone, filed August 1880, issued December 1880 Aerial Vehicle, filed June 1903, issued April 1904

Movie biographies

  • The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, 1939 film reformatted for VCR tape, Don Ameche
    Don Ameche
    Don Ameche was an Academy Award winning American actor with a career spanning almost sixty years.-Personal life:...

     playing Bell, (1966) ISBN 0-7939-1251-2
  • Biography — Alexander Graham Bell, A&E DVD biography based on historical footage and still pictures of Bell, (2005)
  • The Sound and the Silence (1992) (TV) with John Bach
    John Bach
    John Bach is a Welsh-born actor who has spent most of his career working in New Zealand.His best known role internationally is Madril in the two last movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , but he has substantial television credits in New Zealand, including the title role of Detective...

     as Alexander Graham Bell; Canada / New Zealand / Ireland Sound and the Silence