*Ring, Ring* Hello?

For those who have noticed that these articles are sometimes late, and for those who have ever had to fix my computer or answer questions about my phone or met my first car, you know that technology and I have an interesting relationship. Bit of a love/hate one really. Nay it is ultimately and inconvenient marriage of convenience. Yet it is an integral part of our culture and society and so I get by and even do well at times. That being said, I happened to discover this week in history, March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the first telephone. Honestly my first thought was, “Ha! So it’s Your fault!” but only for a moment. I must admit, I found his story fascinating and wanted to share it with you! Alexander Bell (he received the “Graham” as a gift on his 11th birthday per his request) was born March 3, 1847 inEdinburgh,Scotland. His father, Alexander Melville Bell, was a professor and scientist who studied and wrote about physiological phonetics, which is a branch of phonetics dealing with motive processes, anatomical measurements, spirometric properties, muscle and membrane tone, and kinetic aspects of the production of speech and with related aspects of the reception of speech (Thank you dictionary.com). His grandfather also worked with the hearing impaired. His mother, Eliza Grace Symonds Bell, began losing her hearing when he was about 12. His grandmother was also deaf. This and his natural affinity to science and inventing at an early age made it only inevitable that by the age of 29 he would patent such a monumentous invention as the telephone. Still before he got to that point however he was teaching deaf students in several different schools including the Horace Mann School for the Deaf inBoston. (Fun Fact: one of his students was Hellen Keller) He believed that with the right methods deafness could be “cured” and wanted to make it so those who could not hear could integrate back into society away from which they had been ostracized. He didn’t like for his students to use sign language, feeling it hindered them, instead trying different ways to make sound waves/vibrations accessible to them. Not all his methods were received well however and he is sometimes viewed very negatively by the deaf community. Two pupils of his that he privately tutored would have a particularly significant impact on his work and his life (and consequently our lives too); one was a young boy Georgie Sanders, deaf from birth. His father gave Bell a place to live, work and study so that he could continue to work with Georgie. The other was a young woman named Mabel Hubbard, deaf from complications with scarlet fever. Her father was Bell’s benefactor and personal friend. Though she was 10 years his junior, Bell fell in love with her and they were married July 11, 1877, only a few days after the Bell Telephone Company was founded.

 Right… so on to the telephone!

Bell and his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, developed this prototype: vibrations of varying intensity and frequency, caused by sound waves, would cause an electrical current on a thin soft iron plate called the diaphragm. The vibrations would then be transferred magnetically via a wire to another diaphragm in a different location. The original sound would be replicated in the new location through these vibrations. It uses the same concept as the ear itself, sound makes vibration, our brain interprets the vibration as words or music or anything! The first intelligible message the telephone carried was from Bell to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you.” (Fun Fact: Bell’s patent beat out Thomas A. Edison’s patent by only a few hours)Bell patented the invention and established the Bell Telephone Company which developed into the American Telephone and Telegraph, we know it as AT&T (raise your hand if you sang the jingle).


 So there you have it! Now whenever you are rummaging through your bag to find your phone because you forgot to turn it off and it’s interrupting a movie you can thank Alexander Graham Bell! I’m just kidding, the phone is an amazing invention and has paved the way for so many incredible developments that have furthered the human race and our culture. Just to give an example of how much this invention has impacted my life, last week’s article on Shel Silverstein was written entirely on my blackberry because my computer was dead (yeah, my relationship with technology… it’s a thing). Course Bell didnt even want one in his office… hmmm. Logo photo by Justine Impressions http://www.justineimpressions.com/