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Alexander Graham Bell



Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish scientist and inventor who emigrated to Canada. Today, Bell is widely considered as one of the foremost developers of the telephone, together with Antonio Meucci, inventor of the first telephone prototype, and Philipp Reis. Six years after having obtained his telephone patent he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In addition to Bell's work in telecommunications technology, he was responsible for important advances in aviation and hydrofoil technology.

Alexander Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. He later adopted the middle name 'Graham' out of admiration for Alexander Graham, a family friend. Many called Bell "the father of the Deaf." This title may be regarded as ironic, due to his belief in the practice of eugenics as well as his strong audist stance. While both his mother and his wife were deaf, he hoped to one day
eliminate hereditary deafness.

His family was associated with the teaching of elocution: his grandfather in London, his uncle in Dublin, and his father, Alexander Melville Bell, in Edinburgh, were all professed elocutionists. The latter has published a variety of works on the subject, several of which are well known, especially his treatise on Visible Speech, which appeared in Edinburgh in 1868. In this he explains his method of instructing deaf mutes, by means of their eyesight, how to articulate words, and also how to read what other persons are saying by the motions of their lips.

Alexander Graham Bell was educated at the Royal High School of Edinburgh, from which he graduated at the age of 13. At the age of 16 he secured a position as a pupil-teacher of elocution and music in Weston House Academy, at Elgin, Moray, Scotland. The next year he went to the University of Edinburgh. He graduated from University College London.

From 1867 to 1868, he was an instructor at Somerset College at Bath, Somerset, England.

While still in Scotland he is said to have turned his attention to the science of acoustics, with a view to ameliorate the deafness of his mother.

In 1875, at the age of 23, he emigrated with his family to Canada where they settled at Brantford. Before he left Scotland, Bell had turned his attention to telephony, and in Canada he continued an interest in communication machines. He designed a piano which could transmit its music to a distance by means of electricity. In 1873, he accompanied his father to Montreal, Canada, where he was employed in teaching the system of visible speech. The elder Bell was invited to introduce the system into a large day-school for mutes at Boston, but he declined the post in favor of his son, who became Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at Boston University's School of Oratory.

Bell speaking into prototype model of the telephoneAt Boston University he continued his research in the same field, and endeavored to produce a telephone which would not only send musical notes, but articulate speech. With financing from his American father-in-law, on March 7, 1876, the U.S. Patent Office granted him Patent Number 174,465 covering "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", the telephone.......

However, it has been recognized (such as by the U.S. Congress in 2002) that Antonio Meucci was the first to invent the telephone in 1871. Bell invented his own telephone in 1875 after discovering that a receiver could also be a transmitter. Some claim he went to the patent office and bribed the officials there to destroy the records of Meucci's inventor-of-the-telephone status (Meucci was too poor to secure a patent).[citation needed] In any case Bell then secured his own patent in 1876, just hours before Elisha Gray visited the patent office for his own work on the telephone. Meucci was understandably furious, and took Bell to court. However, he was too poor to hire a legal team, and in declining health, he died before the end of the court case. To Bell's credit, he successfully fought off several lawsuits, refined the telephone, and developed it into one of the most successful products. The Bell Telephone Company was created in 1877, and by 1886 over 150,000 people in the U.S. owned telephones and Bell became a millionaire.

After obtaining the patent for the telephone, Bell continued his many experiments in communication, which culminated in the invention of the photophone-transmission of sound on a beam of light — a precursor of today's optical fiber systems. He also worked in medical research and invented techniques for teaching speech to the deaf. The range of Bell's inventive genius is represented only in part by the eighteen patents granted in his name alone and the twelve he shared with his collaborators. These included fourteen for the telephone and telegraph, four for the photophone, one for the phonograph, five for aerial vehicles, four for hydroairplanes, and two for a selenium cell.

Bell had many ideas that were later realized in inventions. During his Volta Laboratory period, Bell and his associates considered impressing a magnetic field 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, 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 gas, he reasoned, could be produced from the waste of farms and factories. At his Canadian estate in Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, he experimented with composting toilets 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 panels to heat houses.

In 1882, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1888, he was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society and became its second president. He was the recipient of many honors. The French Government conferred on him the decoration of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honor), the Académie française bestowed on him the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs, the Royal Society of Arts in London awarded him the Albert Medal in 1902, and the University of Würzburg, Bavaria, granted him a Ph.D. He was awarded the AIEE's Edison Medal in 1914 for "For meritorious achievement in the invention of the telephone."

Bell married Mabel Hubbard, who was one of his pupils at Boston University and also a deaf-mute, on July 11, 1877. His invention of the telephone resulted from his attempts to create a device that would allow him to communicate with his wife and his deaf mother. He died of a heart attack at Beinn Bhreagh, located on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island near the village of Baddeck, in 1922 was buried atop Beinn Bhreagh mountain overlooking Bras d'Or Lake. He was survived by his wife and two of their four children


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