10 Things You Didn’t Know About Alexander Graham Bell
Today, on what would have been his 167th birthday, we celebrate the life and achievements of Alexander Graham Bell: the man responsible for the invention of the telephone, the development of modern-day communication and our company’s namesake. But, did you know…
1 – In his early years, Alexander Graham Bell taught at the Boston School for the Deaf, then went on to invent a device that would transmit sound electrically.
2 – Both his father and grandfather were noted speech therapists. Following in their footsteps as a young man, Alexander Graham Bell helped his father promote a phonetic alphabet known as Visible Speech.
3 – Soon after settling with his parents near Brantford, Ontario, Bell discovered the nearby Six Nations Reserve. With his undying passion for knowledge, he learned the Mohawk language and translated its unwritten vocabulary into Visible Speech symbols. For his work, Bell was awarded the title of Honorary Chief.
4 – With the financial stability derived from the telephone, Bell was able to pursue his diverse research interests including flight, the hydrofoil and the use of light as a method of communication.
5 – While constantly engaged in scientific experiments, Bell crusaded tirelessly on behalf of the deaf, championing their integration into society with the help of vocal communications and finger spelling. Around 1890, he founded the Volta Bureau, later known as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.
6 – He was named after his grandfather Alexander Bell, but growing up was called “Aleck” by his family and friends.
7 – Alexander’s mother had a profound influence on him. She was a proficient pianist despite her deafness, which instilled in him the values of looking beyond people’s disadvantages and working to find solutions to help them.
8 – Ingenuity was in his DNA. His first invention came at the age of 12 while living in Scotland. It was a device with rotating paddles and sets of brushes that helped to de-husk wheat.
9 – Bell invented the telephone in 1874, at the age of 27. His father Melville started commercializing the invention in Canada in 1878. The Bell Telephone Company of Canada was established in 1880.
10 – Upon news of his death in 1922, the entire phone system in Canada and the United States was shut down for a moment of silence to commemorate his life and contribution to society.
With the speed at which technology has evolved, and the ubiquity of our seemingly endless methods of communication today, we often forget that it all began with a man, his desire to help those around him and the words “Mr. Watson, come here; I want to see you.”.
Happy 167th birthday, Mr. Bell – we owe it all to you.