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Fascinating Facts About Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell was born March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Alexander Graham Bell was born March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Bell's mother, Eliza Grace Bell, was deaf, and his father, Melville Bell, was a teacher of deaf students.

  • When Bell was 14, he witnessed a “speaking machine” in London and was inspired to create an apparatus consisting of a facsimile mouth, throat, nose, maneuverable tongue, and lungs that produced human-like sounds. He also succeeded in manipulating the mouth and vocal chords of the family's Skye terrier so that the dog's growls were heard as words.

  • By the age of 16, Bell was teaching music and elocution at a boarding school in Scotland. Shortly after, he enrolled at the University of London.

  • At the University of London, Bell became interested in the writings of German physicist Hermann Von Helmholtz, and his thesis, “On the Sensations of Tone.” Because the work was written in German, Bell mistakenly interpreted the idea that vowel sounds could be produced by electrical tuning forks and resonators as the idea that vowel sounds could be transmitted over wire. He later said, “If I had been able to read German, I might never have begun my experiments with electricity.”

  • In 1870, Bell moved with his parents to Canada after his two brothers died of tuberculosis.

  • In 1872, Bell opened a school in Boston designed to train people to teach deaf students how to speak.

  • While working as a professor of vocal physiology at Boston University in 1873, Bell combined the principle of telegraphy with the multiple messages and notes in a musical chord to arrive at the idea of the harmonic telegraph — the precursor to the telephone.

  • Bell met Thomas Watson in an electrical machine shop in 1875. Watson was known for his skill in devising tools that improved efficiency of instruments, and his work with nascent inventors.

  • On March 10, 1876, Bell supposedly knocked over the battery acid he and Watson were using as transmitting liquid for early telephone tests, and shouted, “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.” Watson, working in the next room, heard Bell's voice through the wire.

  • Bell introduced the telephone to the world at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.

  • In 1877, Bell formed the Bell Telephone Company. He later sued Western Union over patent infringement of his telephone copyright, and won.

  • In the 1880s, Bell used his considerable fortune to establish research laboratories to work with deaf people. Helen Keller was among his many students.

  • Other Bell inventions include an electric probe, a device used to locate bullets and other metal objects in the human body, and the vacuum jacket, which when placed around the chest, administered artificial respiration. He's also credited with inventions related to the iron lung and triangular aircraft wings.

  • In 1898, Bell became the president of National Geographic because he believed that geography could be taught through pictures.

  • Bell's fascination with aeronautics led to his “hydro-drome” boat, a vessel that traveled above the water at high speeds. The hydrodrome reached speeds in excess of 70 mph, and for many years was the fastest boat in the world.

  • Bell died August 2, 1922, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sources: www.pbs.org; http://encarta.msn.com; www.ideafinder.com

 


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