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Alexander Graham Bell

November 30, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Alexander Graham Bell, best known for his invention of the telephone, revolutionized communication as we know it. His interest in sound technology was deep-rooted and personal, as both his wife and mother were deaf. While there’s some controversy over whether Bell was the true pioneer of the telephone, he secured exclusive rights to the technology and launched the Bell Telephone Company in 1877. Ultimately, the talented scientist held more than 18 patents for his inventions and work in communications.


Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. Bell’s father was a professor of speech elocution at the University of Edinburgh and his mother, despite being deaf, was an accomplished pianist.

Young Alexander was an intellectually curious child who studied piano and began inventing things at an early age. Both of his brothers passed away from tuberculosis by the time Bell was in his early twenties.


Initially, Bell’s education consisted of homeschooling. Bell didn’t excel academically, but he was a problem solver from an early age.

When he was just 12, the young Alexander invented a device with rotating paddles and nail brushes that could quickly remove husks from wheat grain to help improve a farming process. At age 16, Bell began studying the mechanics of speech.

He went on to attend Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh. In 1870, Bell, along with his family, moved to Canada. The following year, he settled in the United States.

While in the U.S., Bell implemented a system his father developed to teach deaf children called “visible speech” — a set of symbols that represented speech sounds.

In 1872, he opened the School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech in Boston, where deaf people were taught to speak. At age 26, the budding inventor became Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at the Boston University School of Oratory, even though he didn’t have a university degree.

While teaching, Bell met Mabel Hubbard, a deaf student. The couple married on July 11, 1877. They went on to have four children, including two sons who died as infants.


In 1871, Bell started working on the harmonic telegraph — a device that allowed multiple messages to be transmitted over a wire at the same time. While trying to perfect this technology, which was backed by a group of investors, Bell became preoccupied with finding a way …read more


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