Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. His education was largely received through numerous experiments in sound and the furthering of his father’s work on Visible Speech for the deaf. Bell worked with Thomas Watson on the design and patent of the first practical telephone. In all, Bell held 18 patents in his name alone and 12 that he shared with collaborators. He died in 1922.
2 Early Life
Alexander Graham Bell was born Alexander Bell on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (He was given the middle name "Graham" when he was 10 years old.) The second son of Alexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace Symonds Bell, he was named for his paternal grandfather, Alexander Bell. For most of his life, the younger Alexander was known as "Aleck" to family and friends. He had two brothers, Melville James Bell (1845–70) and Edward Charles Bell (1848–67), both of whom died from tuberculosis.
During his youth, Alexander Graham Bell experienced significant influences that would carry into his adult life. One was his hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the "Athens of the North," for its rich culture of arts and science. Another was his grandfather, Alexander Bell, a well-known professor and teacher of elocution. Alexander's mother also had a profound influence on him, being a proficient pianist despite her deafness. This taught Alexander to look past people's disadvantages and find solutions to help them.
Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his mother, who instilled in him an infinite curiosity about the world around him. He received one year of formal education in a private school and two years at Edinburgh's Royal High School. Though a mediocre student, he displayed an uncommon ability to solve problems. At age 12, while playing with a friend in a grain mill, he noted the slow process of husking the wheat grain. He went home and built a device with rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes that dehusked the wheat. It was his first invention.
3 Early Attempts to Follow His Passion
Alexander's father, Melville, followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a leading authority on elocution and speech correction. Young Alexander was groomed early to carry on in the family business, but he was ambitious and headstrong, which conflicted with his father's overbearing manner. Then, in 1862, Alexander's grandfather became ill. Seeking to be out of his father's control, Alexander volunteered to care for the elder Bell. The experience profoundly changed him. His grandfather encouraged his interests, and the two developed a close relationship. The experience left him with an appreciation for learning and intellectual pursuits, and transitioned him to manhood.
At 16, Alexander Graham Bell accepted a position at Weston House Academy in Elgin, Scotland, where he taught elocution and music to students, many older than he. At the end of the term, Alexander returned home and joined his father, promoting Melville Bell's technique of Visible Speech, which taught the deaf to align specific phonetic symbols with a particular position of the speech organs (lips, tongue, and palate).
Between 1865 and 1870, there was much change in the Bell household. In 1865, Melville Bell moved the family to London, and Alexander returned to Weston House Academy to teach. In 1867, Alexander's younger brother, Edward, died of tuberculosis. The following year, Alexander rejoined the family and once again became his father's apprentice. He soon assumed full charge of his father's London operations while Melville lectured in America. During this time, Alexander's own health weakened, and in 1870,
Alexander's older brother, Melville, Jr., also died of complications from tuberculosis.
On his earlier trip to America, Alexander's father discovered its healthier environment, and after the death of Melville, Jr., decided to move the family there. At first, Alexander resisted the move, for...