We all know the telephone is a great household device, but have you ever thought about who invented it? No invention would be here without an inventor, and many of our greatest inventions belong to Alexander Graham Bell. His childhood, life, and inventions are very interesting to learn about.
Bell was born is Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. Even as a child, he experimented with sound. It all started when young Bell was lost in a corn field and he wanted to see if he could hear the corn grow. He couldn't hear the corn grow but he could hear his father calling for him, and from that point on he was very interested in sound waves.
Bell was a very good piano player. He could listen to a song once and then play it perfectly on his first try. Many people thought he was slow because for hours he would lower his head and sing into the piano. He was far from slow, he was actually listening to the sound waves.
After studying sound waves, Bell and his to brothers made a machine that sounded so realistic that people actually thought the Bells had a newborn. He could even massage his dogís vocal cords to say, "How are you, grandma?" by pushing on his mouth and vocal cords.
With a hearing impaired mother, Bell was eager to create a better way for deaf communication. Instead of talking to his mother through a rubber tube like other people, he realized that if he stuck his head close to her forehead and spoke, then she could understand what he was saying.
When Bell was 15, he dropped out of High School and was sent to study with his grandfather in London. At first he didn't want to go, but he learned a lot and discussed sound and electricity with the famous scientists he met there. Although his brothers went to college, Bell turned out to be the brains in the family!
Later on, he taught at a school for hearing impaired children while studying at the University of London. When Bell was 23 years old both of his brothers had died from the lung disease, tuberculosis, and he soon became sick too. Therefore, the Bells moved to Canada because the air is so fresh there. On July 21, 1870 they left for Canada.
Like his father, Bell was a teacher of speech, and in the spring of 1871, he accepted an invitation to teach in Boston and moved there to pursue his career. In 1872, he opened a school of his own for teachers of the deaf and, the next year, became a Professor of Vocal Physiology at Boston University. The deafness of his mother definitely inspired Bell to follow in his father's footsteps with work in speech studies. It was this work that led Bell to both his bride, Mabel Hubbard, left totally and permanently deaf from Scarlet Fever when she was five years old, and to his ideas for the telephone.
Surprisingly, the first actual telephone message was sent by mistake. It was March 10, 1867, and Bell was in one room with his latest transmitter. Mr. Watson, who helped Bell with his experiments, was in another room with a receiver. Bell accidentally spilled acid on his pants and shouted into the transmitter, " Mr. Watson ------- come here------I want you." Watson heard Bellís voice over the wire and raced into the room within a few seconds.
Bell made many innovations to the telephone because he always wanted to make things better. Sending messages short distances was not enough for Bell. When he went home to Brantford, Michigan in the summer in 1867, he brought along the telephone.
The three calls Bell made from and to Brantford were called the Brantford callings. Bell wanted to experiment with the telephone before he marketed it, that is why he placed the Brantford callings.
On August 3, 1876, he rode to Mount Pleasant, about five miles from Brantford. The first call was going to be from Brantford to Mount Pleasant. When Bell was setting up the transmitter, a crowd gathered in the Brantford telegraph office. The first Brantford calling was a success, however the quality of the call was poor.
The second call was very similar, except that Bellís parents had very important guests over at their house in Canada and Bell wanted to impress them. Also, the distance was about two miles more than the first call for the phone line to travel. It was another success and the guests were definitely impressed.
Then for the third time calling, he wanted the phone line to travel eight miles. This time was different. He had to get permission from the Dominion Telegraph Company. He was allowed to use their phone line for one hour. Bell was setting up in the Paris telegraph office, and such a crowd gathered that the door had to be locked. At first something was wrong. The words were unclear. Then, to Bellís surprise, voices boomed out of the transmitter.
Even though the telephone worked very well, people did not trust it. They were afraid that it carried diseases and wondered if others on the line could hear you. Bell made many lectures and demonstrations to crowds of people. Even worse for Bell, some people claimed that they were the true inventors of the telephone and that Bell had stolen their idea. Through many court cases and arguments, he finally won the rightful ownership of the telephone. Some evidence in the court cases was Bellís sloppy notes, but they were enough to prove the phone was his. It took 18 years for Bell to win his battle. Bell offered the telephone to the Western Union Telegraph Company for $100,000. Too bad they declined. In a few years they would have paid millions for it, but Bell had already discovered the value of the telephone. Later, the telephone made Bell a very rich and successful man.
It took many years for every American to have their telephone. At first, it was difficult to get a telephone in your house, because each house had to have a phone line before they could have a telephone. After you had a phone line, it had to be connected to the wires of the phone line for the person you wanted to call by an operator. Plus, you couldnít call anyone like you can today because not everyone had telephone wires going to their houses.
We should be very grateful that Bell had invented the telephone because it made it much easier for communication with others and in some cases helps to save lives with faster response to emergency situations. The phone also helps families keep in touch over long distances, and helps businesses contact their clients and associates.
Bell made many other inventions besides the telephone, even though the telephone is his most valuable one. In 1881, when United States President James Garfield was shot, Bell invented two machines to help find the bullet. Even though Garfield died, Bellís telegraphic probe saved many lives during World War I.
Bell also invented a machine to help with breathing because when Mable (Bellís Wife) gave birth to a son, he died because of weak lungs. This machine used suction to move the chest. It also helped people with the paralyzing disease, Polio. It was renamed the iron lung after it was improved.
Even though Thomas Edison invented it, Alexander Bell improved the phonograph. A phonograph is an old fashioned music player, and Edison was unhappy that someone had tried to make his invention better because he wanted all the credit for it.
Bell also made toys, air conditioning, the audiometer (a device for testing hearing), and those are just some of his inventions. He also invented a surveying device using a water hose, and suggested devices for finding ice burgs and water depth. With all the stuff Bell invented, he never had an unsuccessful or unused invention.
Alexander Graham Bell Timeline
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