Alexander Graham Bell – a legacy.



Alexander Graham Bell


As a quintessentially British lifestyle publication, The Foxley Docket focuses on the very best of Britain – past, present and future. The 2nd August marks the 94th anniversary of the death of Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who was credited with the invention of the first telephone, a contribution to society without which we couldn’t live or work today.

Born in Edinburgh and educated in London, a fascination with communication came naturally to Alexander from an early age; his father and grandfather had both been authorities in the field of elocution, and at the age of just 16, Alexander himself began researching the mechanics of speech.


Left, the Bell family in 1885, three years before National Geographic’s founding. Right, Alexander Graham Bell and Mabel Hubbard Bell

Left, the Bell family in 1885, three years before National Geographic’s founding. Right, Alexander Graham Bell and wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell


At the age of 23, Bell and his family moved to Canada, and the following year moved to America to teach. Here, he made advances on a notion developed by his father referred to as ‘visible speech’ which was used to teach deaf-mute children. Two years later, Bell founded a school in Boston where he taught teachers of the deaf. This establishment became part of Boston University, and Bell found himself appointed professor of vocal physiology the following year, with a US citizenship by 1882.


A man using Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone, 1915

A man using Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone in 1915


The idea of transmitting speech was something Alexander had been long fascinated by. The foundations for the first telephone were laid in 1875 with the creation of a simple receiver which was able to turn electricity into sound. Bell was not the only inventor to be working at this concept; an Italian American inventor named Antonio Meucci was working along the same lines, a race which to this day sparks a debate regarding who should really be credited for the invention of the telephone. However, Alexander was granted the patent for the telephone in March 1876, and the idea developed quickly – within the space of a year, the first telephone exchange had been created in Connecticut, and in 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was established. Alexander was the owner of a third of the shares, a position which transformed the Scottish inventor into a very wealthy man.


Engraving Diagram Showing Alexander Graham Bells Telephone System

Engraving Diagram Showing Alexander Graham Bells Telephone System


Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the French Volta Prize for the invention of the telephone, and with the money, was able to establish the Volta Laboratory in Washington, where he continued to develop his investigation and research in communication, where he often explored medical research and techniques for teaching speech to the deaf, working with iconic figures including Helen Keller. In 1885, Alexander purchased land in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he established a summer home. Here, he continued his experiments, particularly in aviation.


Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell.

Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell.


In 1888, Alexander was one of many founding members of the National Geographic Society, where he served as president of the organisation between 1896 and 1904, assisting in producing its journal. On August 2nd, 1922, Alexander sadly passed away at his home in Nova Scotia.


Find out more about Alexander Graham Bell at:

Alexander Graham Bell




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