The Bagpiper

A Newsletter for Erwin & Related Families

Volume 6, Issue 4                          Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens                    December 2007

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Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father and grandfather had both been involved in elocution and improving systems of communication for the deaf and deaf mutes, so it was hardly surprising that he followed in their footsteps.

In 1870, after attending universities in Edinburgh and London, he emigrated to Canada before moving on to be Professor of Vocal Physiology at Boston. His invention of the telephone was in pursuit of a device to help the deaf. He patented his early telephone in February 1876, only days ahead of Elisha Gray, his main rival (Gray was a partner in Gray & Barton Co., founded in 1869, which evolved into Western Electric, and it later became AT&T. Graybar Electric Company was a spin-off in 1928). But it was not until March 10, 1876 that the famous words "Mr Watson, come here; I want you" were transmitted by telephone.

Bell formed the Bell Telephone company in 1877, and became rich as a result. But he continued to teach (Helen Keller, the blind and deaf woman who is famous for her work with the handicapped, was one of his pupils), and work on inventions, including a universal phonetic language, a phonograph and hydrofoils. He was also involved in genetics, and invented a new method of sheep breeding. But he never liked his most famous invention, saying, "I never use the beast" and stuffing the bell on his phone with newspapers. He later moved to Nova Scotia, and died there in 1922.