Here are some facts about Alexander Graham Bell, the famous scientist, inventor and engineer.
- Alexander Graham Bell was born on 3rd March 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
- When he was just 12 years old, Alexander invented a ‘dehusking’ machine to remove the husk from wheat.
- His mother, Eliza, started to lose her hearing when Alexander was young. In order to allow her to know what was being said at public gatherings, Alexander learned a ‘finger language’ so he could communicate the conversations via a series of taps on her arm. He started to study acoustics and developed a way of speaking to his mother’s forehead which she could hear clearly.
- Alexander and his brother, Melville, inspired by a ‘mechanical man’ constructed by Charles Wheatstone, made their own automaton head. It apparently looked quite lifelike and could say a few words.
- Alexander Graham Bell was inspired by the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and thought it must be possible to use electricity to convey all of the sounds that mak up human speech.
- By 1870, both of Alexander’s brothers had passed away. They had suffered with tuberculosis. In response to this, Alexander, his brother’s widow and his parents moved to Canada. They purchased a farm near Brantford, Ontario.
- In Canada Bell learned to speak the language of the native Mohawk tribe.
- Bell set up a workshop and started to experiment with a ‘harmonic telegraph’, successfully transmitting piano music.
- On 7th March 1876 Alexander Bell was issued with the patent for the telephone – a device ‘to transmit vocal or other sounds telegraphically’.
- Alexander Graham Bell started the Bell Telephone Company in 1877. By the mid-1880s, more than 150,000 US households owned a telephone.
- Alexander Graham Bell was a compulsive inventor. In addition to the telephone, he also worked on metal detectors, phonographs, aerial vehicles, hydroairplanes, a metal jacket to aid breathing, an audiometer to help diagnose minor hearing loss, and an iceberg location device. He was also interested in alternative fuels, composting toilets and air conditioning.
- Bell died on 2nd August 1922. He was aged 75 and was suffering with diabetes. He was buried in Nova Scotia and a verse of Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson was sung at his funeral.
What next? Check out this great Alexander Graham Bell infographic, find out about some of the other famous Victorians, or visit our Victorians resourses page.