Alexander Graham Bell: A Look Back at the Life and Career of the Prolific Inventor

Herbie J Pilato

According to journalist Mary Bellis and, "In the 1870s, Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically. Both men rushed their respective designs for these prototype telephones to the patent office within hours of each other. Bell patented his telephone first and later emerged the victor in a legal dispute with Gray.

"Today," Bellis explains, "...Bell's name is synonymous with the telephone, while Gray is largely forgotten. However, the story of who invented the telephone goes beyond these two men."

As Bellis went on to document, "Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was immersed in the study of sound from the beginning. His father, uncle, and grandfather were authorities on elocution and speech therapy for the deaf. It was understood that Bell would follow in the family footsteps after finishing college. But after Bell's two other brothers died of tuberculosis, Bell and his parents decided to immigrate to Canada in 1870.

"After a brief period of living in Ontario, the Bells moved to Boston where they established speech-therapy practices specializing in teaching deaf children to speak. One of Alexander Graham Bell's pupils was a young Helen Keller, who when they met was not only blind and deaf but also unable to speak."

As Bellis concluded, "Although working with the deaf would remain Bell's principal source of income, he continued to pursue his own studies of sound on the side. Bell's unceasing scientific curiosity led to the invention of the photophone, significant commercial improvements in Thomas Edison's phonograph and the development of his own flying machine just six years after the Wright Brothers launched their plane at Kitty Hawk. As President James Garfield lay dying of an assassin's bullet in 1881, Bell hurriedly invented a metal detector in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the fatal slug."

To read more about Alexander Graham Bell, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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