Guest Author - Christa Mackey
In 1876, a young man invented a device that would change technology and the way things were done. That invention, of course, was the telephone and the man, Alexander Graham Bell. But, Bell truly was ahead of his time and exercised his brain on a consistent basis. Never satisfied with the status quo, Bell chose to question and pursue the answers to make things better, stronger, faster.
Born March 3, 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bell studied in the Edinburgh schools and the University for a little until the family moved to Canada. Bell’s father was a pioneer in his own right, exploring the different methods of communication among those of the population who were deaf and mute. Those methods of communication influenced Bell and some of the work he would later pursue.
In 1871, Bell lectured at a school in Boston for the deaf and hard of hearing. The following year, he established a school to train teachers for the deaf and also established a school for deaf students. Is it no surprise that in 1876, four days after his 29th birthday, that Alexander Graham Bell secured the patents for his telephone—a device that was designed to transmit two simultaneous telegraphy signals along a single wire. Perhaps his original intent was to make communications for the deaf more possible. He, however, saw a larger potential for his invention. Unfortunately, very few others at that time did.
In 1872, Bell set up the Bell Telephone Company, then married Mabel Hubbard—one of his students from the school for the deaf in Boston. He won France’s Volta Prize (a cash prize of, then, $10,000) for his invention of the telephone. Using that money, Bell established Volta Laboratory in Washington, DC.
Bell spent devoted his life to science and discovery. One of his prized inventions, the photophone, became the precursor to today’s modern fiber optics. His other passion, however, was working with the deaf and hard of hearing community. In fact, in 1883, after becoming a US citizen, Bell established another school for the deaf in Washington, DC. Then, in 1887, he established the Volta Bureau, which today is the headquarters for the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It was here that Alexander Graham Bell recommended the Miracle Worker—Anne Sullivan—to work with the deaf and blind Helen Keller.
To say that Bell was merely the inventor of the telephone would be a gross understatement. His inventions revolutionized communications. From the first telephone to the photophone which lead to today’s modern fiber optics, Bell surpassed even his own visions of the future. His work with the deaf and hard of hearing and his love for those that seemed unreachable sparked many more to continue his work. Alexander Graham Bell died on August 7, 1922 at his estate in Nova Scotia. His legacy, however, will continue forever.
For more information on deafness, visit The Deafness Site here at BellaOnline. Perhaps you will find yourself wanting to continue Bell's work.