The Story of The Telephone
Most people seem to have heard of Alexander
Graham Bell, widely credited as the inventor of the
telephone. What he had actually created however
was something more fundamental than just the
"telephone" as we know it today.
What he had actually invented was the speaker
and microphone, the two fundamental devices for
transmitting sound to a remote location and the
foundation stone for not only the telephone, but
also, radio and music distribution via electricity
including live performances using speaker and
microphones, or storage onto cassette tapes, CD's
or MP3 files. Think about that the next time you fire up your iPod.
Bell was born in Edinburgh on 3rd March 1847. His
father Alexander Meville Bell was a very
successful teacher on elocution and author of text
books on the principles of correct speech. His
Mother, Eliza, was a musician. Bell was educated
at Royal High School Edinburgh and University
Like his mother, Bell showed a flair for music and
initially planned a musical career but eventually
decided to follow in his father's footsteps, joining
his father's business in speech studies.
After the death of Bells' two brothers from TB in
1870, the family emigrated to Canada, where
Alexander continued to help his father
experimenting with ways to help the deaf and mute
communicate. He had great success with
developing methods for teaching the deaf to speak
and in 1872 opened a school in Boston for this
purpose, as well as for helping people with
stammering and pronunciation difficulties. One of
Bells' pupils was Mabel Hubbard who had become deaf as a result of scarlet fever. They would later marry.
In 1873 Bell became Professor of Vocal
Physiology at Boston University. The idea of
transmitting sound by electricity was laid at Bells'
home in 1874 and the telephone carried its first
message in 1876. Although he successfully
patented his invention in 1875 and travelled to the
UK in 1877 to promote its introduction, he
somewhat lost interest in it after returning to the
USA and took no further part in its development
after 1881. Instead he dedicated his life to helping
Bell was also involved in several other inventions
during his life including a hydrofoil boat which set
the marine speed record in 1919 of 70.86 mph. He
also studied flight, and along with his associates
invented the aileron, a device which is still
fundamental to the control of an aircraft.
He died on 2nd August 1922 at his summer retreat
in Nova Scotia Canada and was buried on 4th
August. For one minute during the ceremony the
telephone network in the USA was "switched off"
as a tribute.