Alexander Bell

Alexander Bell

A family

Alexander Bell was born on March 3, 1847 in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.

Alexander came from a family of speech therapists and teachers of eloquence. His grandfather, Alexander Bell, worked as an actor in the theater, sometimes he had to be a prompter. Over time, he took up pronunciation issues professionally, and in 1836 Alexander Bell published the book "Stuttering and Other Impediments of Speech" and some newspapers began to call him Professor of Elocution ("Professor of Elocution").

His father, Melville Bell, published A New Elucidation Of The Principles Of Speech And Elocution in 1849. In this book, he expressed the idea that "a scientific alphabet should be created that could express all possible ways of expressing different sounds." In 1860, he published The Standard Elocutionist, which was a huge success. By the end of the 19th century, it had gone through 168 (!) editions in Great Britain alone, and more than 250 thousand copies of this book were sold in the USA. Melville spent years collecting all possible sounds of human speech, carefully recording how they were reproduced, and all his work was summarized in the book Visible Speech (Visible Speech: The Science Of Universal Alphabetics), which was printed in 1867.

In 1843, Melville Bell met his future wife, Eliza Grace Symonds, the daughter of a ship's surgeon, who painted paintings to order. She was 10 years older than her future husband, and she had terrible hearing, to the point that she constantly had to use a special auditory tube. On July 19, 1844, they were married.

Three sons were born in the marriage: in 1845 they had a son, Melville James (Mellville James), in 1847, Alexander Bell (Alexander Graham), in 1848, a third son, Edward (Edward Charles) was born.

Childhood and youth

All three brothers were homeschooled at first, but upon reaching the age of 10 they went to Mr. McLaren's private school (Maclaren's Hamilton Place Academy). At the age of 11, they should have continued their education, and the father was able to send his sons to the best school in Scotland, Edinburgh's Royal High School (Edinburgh's Royal High School). This school was called "Northern Athens" for the excellent teaching of ancient languages, but Alexander Bell did not shine there with success. His older brother received the first prize for reciting poetry in 1858, another prize in 1860, and in 1862 he took the prize for excellence in French. Alexander Bell was never marked in school.

Alexander Bell's musical talents were noted, and he was sent to study with the pianist Auguste Benoit Bertini. During his school years he played cricket, like all the students of the Edinburgh School, but without any passion.

Alexander Bell was always curious and inventive, and already in his youth he founded the "Society for the Advancement of Science Among Boys." In this society, every student was called a "professor" and made scientific reports. One day, the Society decided to perform an autopsy on a pig's carcass. Alexander Bell began to make an incision, and suddenly gases came out of the carcass, making a terrible sound, reminiscent of an animal roar. As a result, the “professors” fled in horror.

Alexander's older brother Bell completed a six-year course at the Edinburgh High School, while Alexander studied there for only 4 years. At the age of 15, his father sent Alexander to London so that his grandfather could teach him the craft of a teacher of eloquence.

UK teaching career

Alexander Bell helped his father in his experiments, and soon he himself began to work as a teacher of eloquence. In 1863 he came to Elgin, a small town on the north coast of Scotland, to become a teacher at the local private school, Weston House. There he became a teacher of music and eloquence for 10 pounds a year. Alexander Bell himself was then only 16, and several students were older than him.

Alexander Bell in Elgin, aged 16

In 1864, Alexander Bell began to study at the University of Edinburgh. The following year, he returned to teach at Weston House, and the family suffered a great loss: in 1865, his grandfather died. Melville Bell went to London to continue his work. It took him a long time to persuade his son to follow him. Alexander Bell thought he could teach and take all the exams at the University of Edinburgh at the same time. Melville argued that he would not be able to combine work with studies and teach on his own, and that he needed to unlearn at the University of London before making his claims.

In 1866, Melville was able to get a vacancy for his son as a teacher in Bath, at Somersetshire College. This institution, although it was called a college, was in fact a private school and prepared the offspring of gentlemen for universities.

Electric batteries, magnets and vessels with various reagents were often observed in his dwelling. Wires ran from his window to the campus, and Alexander liked to communicate with his friends using Charles Wheatstone's telegraph. Alexander's stay in Beth lasted the entire academic year of 1866-1867, but it was overshadowed by the death of his younger brother, who died in the spring of 1867 from tuberculosis.

In the summer of 1867 Alexander Bell moved to London to help his father in his scientific and pedagogical pursuits. There he met Mr. Murray, the future author of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1868, Alexander Bell passed the entrance exams and was enrolled at the University of London.

In the same year, he first became a teacher of the deaf, for the first time began to teach deaf children. Melville was approached by Susanna E. Hull to use his Visible Speech system for her private school for deaf children in South Kensington. Melville sent Alexander on this assignment, and subsequently, deaf education became one of the main occupations in his life.

In 1870, his older brother, Melville, died of tuberculosis. Grief and despondency befell Alexander Bell, and his own health began to deteriorate. In this terrible situation, Melville Bell decided on a desperate step: he decided to leave his career, well-established life and extensive acquaintances in London, so as not to lose his last son. He remembered how the climate of Newfoundland helped to improve his shattered health, and decided to move to Canada.

Teaching career in the USA

On July 21, 1870, the Bell family boarded a ship and set off for the New World. When Alexander Bell told his friends and family about this, he said that "I went to Canada to die."

The Bell family settled in Brantford, Ontario. There were no vacancies for a teacher of eloquence, and for a long time Melville and Alexander remained without work. Alexander discovered a reservation of Indians of different tribes a few miles from the house: Mohawk, Tuscarora, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. The Indians of these tribes enriched the vocabulary and sound stock of Alexander Bell and provided extensive material for his research. Alexander Bell's biographer Charlotte Gray reported that the Mohawk chief himself taught Alexander Bell the dance of war. Then Alexander Bell loved to dance this dance during his triumphs, which always shocked those around him.

Boston School for the Deaf. June 21, 1871. Alexander Bell, top right.

Melville Bell tried to find any occupation for himself and Alexander, but it was not easy to do this. For a long time he wrote petitions to all the surrounding educational institutions, until in March 1871 an answer came from the Boston School for the Deaf, which offered a vacancy for a teacher. The "Visible Speech" system bore fruit, and as early as November 1871, Boston newspapers began to write about Alexander Bell's successes in deaf education. In 1872 he became professor of "vocal physiology and eloquence" at the Oratory School of Boston University (professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution, Oratory School), which was a rather high title for a 26-year-old young man without a university degree. His progress was noted by the President of the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts,

The Visible Speech system received a standing ovation at a meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and in 1874, Alexander Bell already hosted a convention of Visible Speech teachers on his own, which brought together 60 delegates.

Gardiner Hubbard's daughter, Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, studied with the best teachers and even spent 2 years in Europe, where she studied with the best teachers of the Old World. She was adept at hiding her deafness and conversing in multiple languages ​​(as long as eye contact was maintained). Still, her speech was worth working on, and Gardiner Hubbard asked Alexander Bell to work with Mabel on his "Visible Speech" system. Mabel came to Alexander to study when she was already 15 years old, and in her diaries she admitted that at the first meeting she did not like him at all. But still they began to study, and Alexander Bell said that he had not yet had such a diligent and such a rapidly progressing student.

Work on the multiplex telegraph

Ever since the 1860s. Hubbard tried to push through Congress with a proposal for a telegraph corporation that would simplify and reduce the cost of telegraphic communication in the United States. He argued that the monopoly of the telegraph company Western Union (Western Union) held back the progress of telegraphy, that its telegrams were more expensive than in Great Britain, which nationalized the telegraph in 1868. The US government, in his opinion, should have created the "American Postal Telegraph Company" (United States Postal Telegraph Company), which would build telegraph lines at the postal routes and send telegrams at half the price of Western Union. Hubbard argued that new technology would make the process cheaper, and that the new company should be run by an energetic man like Gardiner Hubbard.

Western Union President Mr. William Orton (William Orton) considered this project a gross intervention of the state in economic life, which would violate the freedom of private enterprise. Gardiner tried to come up with a workaround. He heard about scientific work in the field of multiplex telegraph, with which it would be possible to send several telegraphic messages on one wire at the same time. Gardiner Hubbard figured that if he had such a device, he could attract investors to his new company. According to legend, once Alexander Bell, his daughter's teacher, came to tea with him. He was an excellent pianist and entertained guests with his music. After that, he showed the guests a trick with acoustic resonance. He hummed various notes inside the body of the piano, and various strings sounded in response.The Story of Alexander Graham Bell  ( 1939 )).

Gardiner Hubbard asked if telegraph messages could be transmitted in this way, to which Alexander Bell replied that just as different notes could be transmitted in the same airspace, different messages could be transmitted over the same wire. After that, Alexander Bell took up the multiplex telegraph.

In this race, Alexander was far behind Western Union, which in 1872 acquired the rights to Joseph Stearns' duplex telegraph, which could send oncoming messages on one wire at a time. In 1874, she purchased a Thomas Edison quadruplex telegraph, which doubled that figure.

Very often, Alexander Bell ordered instruments and materials for his experiments in the workshop of Charles Williams (Charles Williams) in Boston. The telegraph could not be established, various parts broke down, and there was no end to the customer, he came again and again. According to the rules of the workshop, the client had to leave the order with the clerk, and he distributed them among the artisans. But one day, an employee of the workshop, Thomas Watson, saw how a certain client rushed to his table, who dumped telegraph equipment on his table, and began to explain how to make a telegraph designed to transmit six messages. Subsequently, Thomas Watson will go to work for Alexander Bell full-time and become a partner in his enterprises.

Alexander Bell worked on a multiplex telegraph, but the experiments were unsuccessful, and no one was interested in his inventions. In January 1874, he wrote a letter to the British Superintendent of Telegraphs, asking him to evaluate his invention. The answer was not very encouraging: the royal postal department reserved the right to use his invention, but did not promise to keep the secret of its design, and even in case of successful use, "the issue of awarding would be decided at the discretion of the royal department."

In the winter of 1875, Alexander Bell came to Washington to patent his telegraph device. During this trip, he received US patent number 161739 for April 6, 1875 (it was issued to Bell, Hubbard and Sanders), but did not receive any benefit from it.

Phone work

During the trip, he received a reception from the great physicist Joseph Henry. In the course of intense conversations, Alexander Bell told him about his ideas about the transmission of sound using electricity, and even demonstrated an experiment. Mr. Henry told him about the scientific work in this area, and even about the telephone set of the German Philip Reis. Joseph Henry asked him if it would be worth publishing his findings in the press of the Smithsonian Institution, or if Alexander could take his experiments to their logical conclusion. Alexander Bell replied that he had no knowledge of electromagnetism and doubted his success.

Mr. Henry had his bad experience with this part. At one time, Michael Faraday published his works on physics before him, and became famous for discoveries that Joseph Henry could have claimed. On another occasion, he published his scientific research on the transmission of a signal using electricity, but did not work on the device, as a result, Samuel Morse received all the wealth and fame that the telegraph brought. Mr. Henry advised Alexander Bell not to publish his work, but to work until he got a working apparatus that could be sold at a profit. "Get to work!" he snapped. Bell admitted that these words inspired him more than anyone else.

Alexander Bell's experience with the transmission of sound over wires June 2, 1875
Alexander Bell's experiment with the transmission of sound over wires on June 2, 1875. Approximate scheme.

When Alexander Bell arrived in Boston, he shared with his companion the idea of ​​​​inventing a device that transmits sound through wires. But Bell's main sponsors, Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, weren't happy with his dubious ventures. They demanded that he finish work on the multiplex telegraph, after which he could move on to other projects.

But on June 2, 1875, his experiments nevertheless gave results. When Alexander and Thomas were setting up the telegraph machines, they closed the contacts, and Alexander heard a faint echo from his receiver. As soon as he heard this sound, he immediately rushed to Watson, who at that time was tuning the telegraph key, and all his tuning echoed on the receiver. Similar events had happened before, but no one attached importance to them, but Alexander Bell saw this as confirmation of his guesses that sound could be transmitted over wires. After that, they experimented with sound transmission all day.

The gallows telephone, June 3, 1875. Replica. Exhibit of the Museum of the History of the Telephone

On that day, Alexander Bell made a sketch of a telephone set, which Watson made the very next day, June 3, 1875. This telephone, in its form, resembled a gallows, and remained so in the memory of communication historians. This time they went to different rooms and the sound was barely audible, even worse than the previous day. Watson himself called this phone "a bitter disappointment", but the experiments continued.

Mr. Hubbard was not interested in the telephone, so Bell decided to cede some of the rights to it to his Canadian neighbor, Mr. George Brown, for $500. According to the agreement, he was supposed to file an application with the British patent office during his visit to London.

In the autumn, Alexander waited for news from Mr. Brown, who neglected his idea. Gardiner Hubbard demanded results, and his competitors were also working on the sound transmission device and were close to the results. Something had to be done, but Alexander Bell was bound by his agreement with Mr. Brown. Then Mr. Hubbard decided to take matters into his own hands.

Fluid transmitter patented March 7, 1876 and first tested March 10, 1876. Replica. Exhibit of the Museum of the History of the Telephone

On February 14, 1876, one of Hubbard's colleagues, Mr. Anthony Pollok, representing the law firm of Bailey & Pollok, applied for a patent for "Improvements in Telegraphy" on behalf of Alexander Bell. On the same day, Mr. William D. Baldwin came to the Washington Patent Office and applied for a patent for a liquid transmitter on behalf of Elisha Gray. Both of these drawings were very similar to each other, which gave rise to doubts about the superiority of Alexander Bell.

Both applications were accepted by Mr. Zenas Fisk Wilber. On February 19, he wrote to Mr. Pollock that Bell's application copied Mr. Gray's design. Then Pollock and Bailey decided to turn to his boss, Mr. Ellis Spear (Acting Comissioner of Patents, Ellis Spear). On February 24, they wrote to him that they had analyzed the applications for that day, and found out that Bell's application had been submitted several hours earlier. Mr. Spare reversed Fisk Wilber's decision, and on February 25 both sides were notified that the conflict was over.

But in 1886, Fisk Wilber would swear under oath that he was an alcoholic, that he served with Mr. Bailey in the same regiment and that he constantly borrowed money from him, including for drinking. He will also talk about receiving money from Alexander Bell and giving him Gray's application for review. In the same year he will be brought to Denver for court hearings, Fisk Wilber will be placed in a hotel owned by the future mayor of Denver, Marion van Horn (Marion DeKalb Van Horn). The guests said that all this time he was "monstrously drunk" and claimed that he was being held there as a hostage. Marion van Horn paid all his bills. After some time, Fisk Wilber died under strange circumstances, and after that Marion van Horn took over all the expenses for his funeral. In 1895, Marion van Horne fell from the third floor of his hotel and died to his death.

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Bell's patent number 174465 was filed, which would be recognized as the most expensive patent in history.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Bell and Thomas Watson were experimenting with a liquid transmitter. According to legend, as soon as they began to disperse into different rooms, Alexander Bell accidentally spilled acid from the battery on his trousers and loudly shouted “Watson, come here, I need you!”. He did not hear his scream, because he was in another room, but for the first time he heard the words from the receiver. He immediately ran into Bell's room and shouted "I heard every word!". At first, Alexander did not understand what had happened and talked about his burn, but when he learned about the success of the experiment, he immediately forgot about his injury. All day and all night, they changed places at the receiver and transmitter, and they just didn’t say anything to each other, including “God save the queen!”. Then many people wondered why they had their first telephone conversation only a month after the patent application,

Promotion of the phone to the market and improvement of the device

On May 10, 1876, he held a telephone demonstration in front of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The demonstration was successful, the invention was awarded with thunderous applause. Immediately there were requests for lectures by Alexander Bell. On May 25, 1876, he showed his invention to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and there the success was amazing.

Gardiner Hubbard insisted that this year Alexander should take part in the Industrial Exhibition in Philadelphia, dedicated to the centenary of US independence. The program of the exhibition included all the achievements of American industry and scientific thought, and it was a great opportunity to announce your invention.

But Alexander Bell did not want to go to the exhibition, no matter how Gardiner Hubbard tried to convince him. Then he decided to resort to extreme measures. Gardiner sent a telegram to Gertrude and Mabel and ordered them to get Alexander out at all costs. Then Mabel hired a carriage and drove to Alexander's rented apartment. She told him that she needed a companion for the trip, and pushed him into the carriage. Then she ordered the coachman to go to the station and dropped off Alexander there with a ticket to Philadelphia.

On June 25, 1876, Alexander stood with his stand in the Machine Building Hall, waiting for the Commission on Electrical Engineering. The day was hot, and the Commission announced that they would complete their inspection before the Alexander Bell booth. But suddenly the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro entered the hall and saw his familiar teacher. When he began to explain to him the principle of the telephone, he kept saying "It's impossible!". The emperor attracted the attention of the great English physicist Lord Kelvin (William Thomson), and soon the entire commission was at the stand of Alexander Bell. He decided to demonstrate his device and gave Dom Pedro a receiver. When the emperor heard the words coming from him, he exclaimed in surprise: “He speaks!”. After that, the entire commission tested Bell's device for an hour, trying out its capabilities and looking for a catch, but with each experience the admiration grew. According to the verdict of the commission, Alexander Bell deserved the gold medal of the exhibition.

In November 1876, a phone call was made between Boston and Salem, about 15 miles (about 25 km) away. On December 3, 1876, the Eastern Railroad provided its telegraph wires for testing telephones over a long distance. On that day, a telephone conversation took place between Boston and North Conway (North Conway) at a distance of about 140 miles (about 225 km). Although the quality was far from the best, the connection was established and the signals were transmitted.

The telephone became more and more popular. Alexander Bell gave public lectures in various cities with a visual demonstration of the telephone. To attract attention, he rented a telegraph line for half an hour and transmitted the song “Yankee Doodle” from Boston to New York, in New Haven (New Haven) the speech was transmitted not by wire, but through 16 Yale University professors holding hands. In March 1877, more than 2,000 people broke into his lecture in Providence. At the same time, viewers sometimes paid two dollars for a ticket, and Alexander began to receive good money at that time.

Patent No. 186787

At the Philadelphia Industrial Exhibition in 1876, where Bell's telephone received the highest accolades, Amos Emerson Dolbear demonstrated Lissajous tuning forks, an opeidoscope, and an electric gyroscope. After the show, Mr. Percival D. Richards, who worked at the show in the education department, approached Emerson and asked if he had any business ideas. He replied that since the phone was already patented, he should not even try. Then Percival asked Emerson to participate in Bell's experiments. In August 1876, Professor Dolbear conducted experiments with the transmission of sound over a distance, although at that time he was not familiar with either Reis's experiments or Alexander Bell's device. Even then, he used permanent magnets in his devices. As for Bell, his liquid transmitter of 1876 could only be used for fun,

When Emerson came to the Harvard Observatory to test Bell's device, he persuaded him to add an electromagnet to increase the vibration of the membrane. Professor Dolbear wrote in his diary that before that, Bell's apparatus had a battery of 15 Grove cells, and Alexander Bell began to remove one element after another. The device continued to work, and when it continued to work with power from only one element, Alexander Bell started to dance, declaring that he now knew how to make telephones.

On January 15, 1877, a representative of Alexander Bell applied for a patent for a new telephone that could work without a battery, and on January 30, 1877, American patent No. 186787 was issued. Emerson was outraged that his device was patented without his notice and demanded an explanation. He then became one of Bell's main opponents, and challenged his primacy in the invention of the telephone.

Founding of the Telephone Company

In April 1877, a telephone line was installed leading from the house of Charles Williams to his workshop, about 5 km long. And one day, in May 1877, the son of Edwin Holmes, “the father of the burglar alarm,” drove into Williams’s workshop on business and saw how he was using the telephone. Edwin Thomas Holmes came up with the idea for the telephone switchboard, which he shared with Gardiner Hubbard. Holmes' office in Boston had a burglar alarm console that ran wires to security devices in many of his clients' homes. He offered to install telephones for clients and connect them to each other in his office.

This suggestion pleased Mr. Hubbard, and the experiment was carried out. Many of Holmes' clients appreciated the novelty and wished to install it in their offices, and Hubbard began to rent phones to him. Switches were constructed in Holmes's office, through which the subscribers were connected to each other. In August 1877, Bell's company installed 778 telephones, and over 700 of them were connected through Holmes' office.

In May 1877, a convenient receiver appeared on telephones, which began to be called the "Bell Pipe" or "oil seal". This device was developed by Alexander and William Channing, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who installed fire alarm systems in Boston. At the University of Pennsylvania, Channing is credited as the first and only inventor of the telephone handset, and this has been reflected in the university's alumni record.

After the success of public lectures and telephone orders, the Bell Telephone Company of Massachusetts (BTC) was founded on July 9, 1877, which then grew into the grand American Telephone and Telegraph Company (American Telephone and Telegraph Company). AT&T).

The 5,000 shares of the company were distributed as follows:


  • Alexander Bell - 10 shares

    Wedding of Alexander Bell and Mabel Hubbard

    In the summer of 1875, Mabel Hubbard went to Nantucket for a few months, and Alexander decided that he could not survive such a long separation. On June 24 of the same year, he wrote a letter to Mabel's mother, Gertrude Hubbard, in which he said "that his interest in the student had developed into higher feelings ... that he had learned to love her ... and that he was very sorry that he had to be separated from her."

    It was a big surprise for Gertrude. At the meeting, she told Alexander that the girl was only 17 years old, that she still needed to see the light, and the teacher should have waited before declaring her feelings. But the feelings were so strong that it was impossible to contain them. Alexander began to write letters to Mabel in Nantucket, and soon he himself went there. Despite mutual sympathy, Mabel's parents agreed that it was too early to talk about the wedding.

    But in the summer of 1877, after successful public lectures and orders for telephone communication, Mabel's parents decided that the young man still got on his feet. On July 11, 1877, Alexander Bell married Mabel Hubbard.

    Two days before the wedding, the Bell Company was incorporated, where Alexander Bell received 1,500 shares out of 5,000, but he gave all of his shares to Mabel as a wedding gift, keeping only 10 shares for himself.

    Alexander Bell in Europe

    In the summer of 1877, Alexander and his young wife went on a honeymoon trip, leaving all the efforts to promote the telephone on the market to their friends and companions. In addition to the honeymoon, he tried to find investors in Europe and gain a foothold in the European market.

    The telephone was demonstrated to the English Queen Victoria, and she was very pleased with this invention.

    But in Europe, Alexander Bell faced strong competition and many problems.

    In Germany, Secretary of State of the Imperial Post Office Heinrich von Stephan learned of Bell's invention and ordered German companies to produce their own telephones. As early as November 1877, Siemens & Halske began producing 200 telephones a day, followed by Mix & Genest. The disparate German lands united quite recently, and in the German Empire a patent office (Patentgesetz) appeared only in May 1877. Alexander Bell and his employees did not have time to react, and Werner Siemens immediately secured his rights to the phone. To all of Bell's letters, he replied that "since you have not patented the invention in Germany, I will continue production."

    Representatives of Thomas Edison appeared in France, who promoted his design of the telephone. In Bell's absence, reporter Fred Gower took over the phone-demonstration lectures. Mr. Hubbard gave him a contract to install telephones throughout New England, but he wasn't happy with the results, so he stayed on as lecturer. He then traveled to Europe to help Bell find investors. He found investors in England, tweaked the design a bit, and sold telephones without any payment to Alexander Bell and Mr. Hubbard, while Bell could not do anything with his English patents. Gower amassed a decent fortune, married the popular singer Lillian Nordica (Lillian Nordica), but happiness was short-lived. One day he went on a balloon trip. The French fisherman called out to him and asked, where the ball will go. Gower replied "To London!" and soared into the sky. Nobody saw him again.

    Return to the US and lawsuits

    The telephone network grew, and Gardiner Hubbard was in no hurry to sell telephones. He only rented them out to maintain a monopoly on the telephone network so that no one could copy the design of the telephone. But over time, more and more people wanted to install their own networks and manufacture their own devices, since everyone understood the benefits of telephony. According to patent No. 174465, Alexander Bell and his companions received the exclusive right to manufacture telephones for 17 years, from 1876 to 1893. But during this time alone, more than 1,500 companies offering communication services and vending machines appeared in the United States. And 10 years after the patent expired, more than 6,000 appeared. Gardiner Hubbard had to use all his legal experience and use all his connections in the judicial system to crush opponents.

    In the US, Western Union took over the production of its own phones and connecting subscribers, and Alexander received telegrams that his presence was necessary at court hearings. He told Mabel that he was tired of the phone and that he wanted to continue teaching. When he received a letter from the Scottish town of Greenock asking him to find a Visible Speech teacher for deaf children, the world famous inventor rushed to fill the position. Mabel still managed to persuade him to go to the United States. Alexander boarded a ship bound for the Canadian port of Quebec to stay at his parents' house without stopping in Boston. But when in November 1878 he descended from the ship's ladder, he was personally met by Thomas Watson. Alexander had to take up telephony again.

    The phone company was doing badly. Employees did not receive a salary for months, suppliers refused to work with the company. Even Thomas Sanders, the richest of the sponsors, was getting impatient, he had already invested $110,000 but hadn't received a cent. Amid all these financial difficulties, rumors arose that Hubbard offered the company and all of Bell's patents to Western Union for $100,000, but the offer was rejected.

    The Bell Telephone Company filed a lawsuit against Western Union, accusing it of violating its privilege. One of Bell's trumps was a letter written by Mr. Gray in March 1877, where he congratulated his opponent on his achievement, and said that he "does not even claim the right to his invention." Already in September 1879, Western Union lawyers began to approach Bell's company with proposals for a pre-trial settlement of the issue. To everyone's surprise, Western Union agreed to a compromise with Bell's. On November 10, 1879, an agreement was reached:

    Alexander Bell did not intend to build telegraph networks, now he had his own profitable business. In March 1879, his shares were selling for $65, in September their price reached $337, in October already $525, and after the news of the agreement with Western Union, the price soared to $1,000.

    Court hearings continued, new applicants appeared. Companions of Alexander Bell withstood about 600 lawsuits. On January 24, 1887, a process began in the US Supreme Court, in which Bell was opposed by Amos Emerson Dolbear, Daniel Drobo's Telephone and Telegraph Company (Drawbaugh Telephone and Telegraph Company), Molecular (Molecular TelCo), Clay Commercial (Clay Commercial TelCo) and Overland (Overland TelCo). On March 19, 1888, the decision was announced: “... Any person looking at the night sky could see the planet Neptune, but only Le Verrier's calculations and Adams' observations could prove its existence and indicate its position in the solar system. The same is true with Bell… Bell designed the telephone and scientifically substantiated the basis of his invention, and also patented it…”. 4 Chief Justices were in favour, 3 vs. During the trial, one of the judges died. Chief Justice Waite, who wrote the decision, was unable to read it due to illness and confided it to a colleague. Judge Waite died 4 days after the verdict was announced. Thus, Bell won by only 1 vote.

    Invention of the photophone

    In 1879, Alexander purchased the Encyclopædia Britannica, which he read from beginning to end in search of new ideas. After all, he was not going to stop on the phone.

    In the 1870s, people in England began to learn about the unique properties of selenium. When Alexander arrived on his honeymoon in the UK, all the local scientific journals were full of articles about it. In 1878, in a lecture before the Royal Academy of Sciences, he stated that "if you put selenium in a telephone battery and shine a ray of sunshine on it, you can hear it, just like you can hear a shadow." From this one can imagine the possibilities for using selenium for signaling and for data transmission.

    In 1879, he took up this matter thoroughly. In this case, Alexander was assisted by Charles Sumner Tainter (Charles Sumner Tainter), to whom he often went to the shop-workshop in Cambridgeport (Cambridgeport) for tools and reagents for his experiments. In January 1880, Alexander set the goal of reproducing speech with the help of light, which he wrote about in his laboratory notes. On February 19, 1880, he recorded that the problem had been successfully solved.

    In the spring, experiments began to increase the transmission range. In March, it was possible to hear a distinct speech on the photophone at a distance of 82 meters, in April the range stepped over 200 meters. But the practical use of the photophone was limited by the relief, weather conditions and other factors.

    Nevertheless, Alexander Bell considered this invention one of his greatest creations. It was only with the introduction of fiber optic cable that the transmission of information using light became cost-effective, but this happened more than 100 years after Bell's invention.

    Advances in Medicine

    Alexander Bell uses a metal detector to locate a bullet from an injured President Garfield.

    July 2, 1881 US President James Garfield (James A. Garfield) was shot dead, but he had to suffer for a long time. Two bullets hit the president: one hit his arm, the other hit him in the back and stayed there. The president was in a serious condition, and the best doctors reached out to the hospital bed with the president.

    As soon as Alexander Bell found out about this, he immediately ordered a carriage for himself and went to Boston, to Williams' workshop. There he began to work on his metal detector, originally designed to detect metals in the ground. He attached a telephone receiver to it, which signaled the presence of metals.

    On July 26, Alexander Bell and Sumner Tainter came to the White House with their device. There were several doctors around the ailing President Garfield. Mr. Garfield was afraid of electric shock, and the sight of batteries and wires horrified him. Alexander and the doctors began to carefully move the metal detector, trying to detect the bullet, but the device gave out only a uniform squeak, and it was impossible to determine exactly where it was. The experiments ended in vain, Alexander began to refine the device. Afterwards, he learned that the doctors denied all his requests and did not put Garfield on a bed without a mattress with metal springs. Not surprisingly, the device produced a uniform squeak; it accurately diagnosed the metal frame of the mattress.

    However, the president began to improve, and in August he could already sit up in bed and eat without help. But on September 19 he died. He died not from a bullet that got stuck in soft tissues and did not threaten life, but from an infection that doctors brought there. Doctors of that time, having no X-ray or metal detector, put their hands into the wound for examination. As for antiseptics, they have not yet gained a foothold in the medicine of those years.

    In October 1881, Alexander Bell demonstrated his metal detector to doctors in New York. One of the spectators, Dr. John H. Girdner, began to use this device in his operations. When he wrote about it in scientific journals, he always pointed to "Professor Bell's excellent invention", and said that "his name should be written next to the great healers, benefactors of suffering mankind." But then he started selling Dr. Girdner's Telephonic Bullet Detector, and his newspaper obituary said that Mr. Girdner's detector was used to detect and extract thousands of bullets from patients before X-rays were invented.

    Bell was well aware of Girdner's activities, but did not intend to enter into a new conflict. In 1886, the University of Heidelberg awarded Alexander Bell an honorary doctorate in medicine for the invention of his metal detector. This device saved thousands of lives before the discovery of X-rays, and even served in the Anglo-Boer War and in the First World War, when X-rays were not yet available to everyone, especially at the front.

    In the summer of 1881, Alexander Bell's newborn son died due to respiratory failure. Another person would have been heartbroken, but for Alexander this served as an incentive for a new invention that saves people's lives. He immediately began work on an artificial respiration apparatus, which he called the "Vacuum Jacket". It wrapped around the patient's torso and was completely airtight. Removing air pressure from the patient's body, she allowed air to be supplied to the lungs through the mouth opening, in a word, carried out artificial respiration of the patient. Alexander built a working model of the device in England in 1882 and demonstrated it to the British Physiological Society. After that, doctors continued to work in this direction, as a result, a device appeared, which was called "iron lungs".

    Volta Laboratory

    In 1880, Alexander Bell came to Paris to receive the Volta Prize in the amount of 50,000 francs. It was a very rare and prestigious award that Alexander received for the invention of the telephone. With the proceeds, he organized a laboratory named after Volta, in which they experimented on sound.

    In this case, Alexander was assisted by his cousin, Chichester Bell. He was a versatile person, he knew how to play both hockey and the piano, he had a broken nose from boxing matches. He studied chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin University. He was a professor of chemistry, and when his American cousin asked him to take part in scientific work, he simply could not refuse. One of the first fruits of their collaboration was the Spectrophone, a device for spectral analysis.

    In the course of further experiments in the Volta laboratory, Bell and Tainter created new designs of telephone receivers and transmitters. But their main triumph was the creation of the graphophone, a sound recording device that surpassed Edison's phonograph in every way. In it, the sound was fixed with a cutter on a cardboard cylinder with a waxed surface. The Volta Graphophone Company was founded in 1886. The enterprise found investors and provided its founders with wealth and fame. Sumner Tainter worked with sound recording until the end of his days, for his work received the John Scott Medal (John Scott Medal) and gold medals at various industrial exhibitions. Chichester Bell also received the John Scott medal, then went to England and continued his scientific work.

    Association for Aviation Experiments

    At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, various scientists experimented with flying through the air, and Alexander Bell did not stand aside. Alexander experimented with rockets with a powder charge, and with propellers, and with kites of various designs. As a rule, these experiments amazed the surrounding residents, but it was still very far from a full-fledged flight.

    Association for Aeronautical Experiments, 1908. Left to right: Glenn Curtis, Douglas McCurdy, Alexander Bell, Frederick Walker "Casey" Baldwin, Thomas E. Selfridge.

    Alexander Bell first took up aerodynamics, and he needed assistants. The first was Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge, a graduate of the West Point Military Academy, whom the War Department sent to observe Alexander Bell's experiments, at his insistent request. The second was Glenn Curtis, a motorcycle race winner and mechanic, from whom Alexander ordered engines for his vehicles. The third was Douglas McCurdy, and he brought with him a university friend, Casey Baldwin (Frederick Walker "Casey" Baldwin). Funding for this company was provided by Mabel Hubbard, who donated $20,000 to a class for her husband. In 1907, the Aerial Experiment Association was solemnly founded.

    Bell's airplanes built in 1908

    Before them was the goal - to fly more than one kilometer. In 1907, the Aero Club of America and Scientific American created a prize for achievements in aviation. The aviator who would cover the distance of one kilometer would be the first to take it. Bell's company built the June Bug airplane, which at first could not be lifted into the air. He had to smear the wings with paraffin to improve aerodynamic performance. In June 1908, he stayed in the air 900 meters, on July 4 he flew, during which he overcame 1634 meters and spent 1 minute and 40 seconds in the air. Bell's aviators deserve their reward.

    Not everyone was happy with this achievement. The Wright brothers wrote to Glen Curtis that they always shared their designs with the Bell Association and he used their device to control the airplane, but did not notify them.

    On September 17, 1908, Thomas Selfridge took part in the flight of Orville Wright as a passenger, and this flight ended in failure. Orville was seriously crippled, and Thomas died from his injuries.

    At that time, the Association was running out of money, and Mabel donated another 10 thousand dollars for 6 months of flights. Alexander Bell's last airplane, the Silver Dart, flew 12 miles in March 1909. On March 31, 1909, the last meeting of the Association for Aeronautical Experiments took place.

    Then Glen Curtis got seriously involved in the aviation business, and at the beginning of his career he began to borrow Bell's patents. Alexander was no longer going to waste time on the courts in his advanced years, and arranged for the sale of the Air Experiments Association patents to the Curtis Company for $5,900 and shares in the Curtis Company for $50,000 in 1917.

    Hydrodrome construction

    Hydrodrome HD-4.

    On his estate, Beinn Bhreagh, he began to manufacture watercraft on wings, with a propeller behind. Alexander called this construction hydrodrome (hydrodrome), and the first hydrodrome was launched in 1911. It was called HD-1, followed by HD-2 (somehow during the swims it almost sank, and it was named "Jonah", in honor of the biblical prophet who had been in the belly of a whale). The next hydrodrome, HD-3, in 1913 accelerated to 50 miles per hour (80 km / h).

    But all these experiments were stopped in 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, and the Bell estate was also under threat, because it was located on British territory. Nevertheless, in 1915, Alexander Bell convinced the US Navy that his hydrodrome could pursue German submarines. But no one was willing to go into British territory and put themselves in danger for some dubious innovation. The next hydrodrome, HD-4, accelerated to 70 miles per hour (110 km / h). Alexander Bell convinced the sailors that the HD-4 would be the ideal patrol or rescue vessel. In Washington and London, they became interested in this invention, but interest quickly faded for various reasons. After the death of Alexander Bell, all experiments with hydrodromes were discontinued. But Alexander Bell was right, and this rightness was realized only in the 1950s,


    Bell suffered from diabetes and died on August 2, 1922 from pernicious anemia at his estate, Beinn-Bray, near the town of Baddeck (Canadian province of Nova Scotia). After his death, all telephones in the United States (more than 13 million) were turned off for a minute of silence in order to honor the memory.

    • Mabel Bell - 1497 shares
    • Gardiner Hubbard - 1387 shares
    • Gardiner Hubbard's wife, Gertrude Hubbard - 100 shares
    • Thomas Sanders - 1497 shares (invested in the business 110 thousand dollars)
    • Thomas Watson - 499 shares
    • Brother of Gardiner Hubbard (CE Hubbard) - 10 shares
    • Alexander Bell was credited with inventing the telephone
    • Western Union transfers its telephone network (55,000 subscribers in 17 cities) to Bell Company (NBTC), which is obliged to pay 20% of its income for 17 years, while Bell's patent is still valid
    • NBTC commits never to build telegraph networks

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