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A Concise Timeline and Summary of the Life of Alexander Graham Bell

Timeline for Alexander Graham Bell
We know who Alexander Graham Bell was. Find more about his life in this history and timeline of Alexander Graham Bell and know what made him who he was.
Manali Oak
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Born in 1847, Alexander Graham Bell was a scientist and inventor. He passed away in 1922. His most notable contribution to technology is his invention of the telephone. Take a look at the timeline of Alexander Graham Bell in this ScienceStruck article. We give you an overview of the most important events in Bell's life, and a detailed account of his work.
March 3, 1847: Alexander Graham Bell was born.
Around 1859: Bell built a dehusking machine, that could qualify as his first invention.
1870: Bell, with his parents and brother's widow, moved to Canada.
1874: He came up with the idea of a telephone.
1875: Bell and Watson demonstrated the working of a telephone.
1876: The U.S. Patent Office issued Bell a patent for transmitting sound waves telegraphically.
1877: The Bell Telephone Company was formed. In July that year, Bell married Mabel Hubbard.
1882: Bell got the American Citizenship.
1890: Bell formed the American Association to Promote teaching Speech to the Deaf.
1899: Acquisition of the Bell Telephone Company by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company
1907: Bell formed the Aerial Experimental Association and headed it.
1915: Transcontinental call between Bell and Watson
August 2, 1922: Alexander Graham Bell died.
  • On March 3, 1847, Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. His grandfather and father were working in the field of elocution and speech.
  • In 1858, from his eleventh birthday, he acquired the middle name Graham. But his close friends and relatives continued calling him 'Aleck'.
  • From his best friend Ben Herdman, Bell once came to know that the process of husk removal of wheat grains was quite arduous. The 'inventor's brains' that he had, Bell devised a way to ease the process. He combined rotating paddles with sets of nailbrushes, creating a simple 'dehusking machine'. This was his first invention! He was only 12 that time.
  • Alexander Bell was a student of Royal High School in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he was sixteen, he became a 'pupil-teacher' of elocution and music in Western House Academy. Bell graduated from the University of Toronto.
Inventions of Alexander Graham Bell
  • In 1863, on seeing Aleck's interest in speech, his father took him to see an automaton, which was developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone. It was based on the work of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen and simulated human voice. Aleck obtained a copy of von Kempelen's book, published in German, translated it and worked on building an automaton head. The combined efforts of Aleck and his brother and father, bore fruit. From his translation, Aleck inferred, that if sounds of vowels could be produced electrically, consonant sounds and speech could also be produced this way!
  • In 1865, the Bell family migrated to London but Aleck returned to Weston House and continued with his experiments with sound and electricity. In his effort to transmit sound by means of electricity, he deployed a telegraph wire from his room to his friend's house. Who knew that time, what this experiment would be leading him to... yes, the invention of telephone!
  • During 1866-67, Bell taught at the Somersetshire College in Bath. On the demise of his brother, Aleck returned home in 1867. In 1868, he started teaching speech to deaf students at the Susanna Hull's school in London.
  • Bell moved to Canada with his brother's widow and his parents in 1870. He set up a workshop near his residence and continued with his experiments. He designed a piano, which could transmit music electrically.
  • In April 1871, he moved to Boston to provide training in Visible Speech System to school instructors. He repeated his training program in the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes in Hartford and then in the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton.
  • In October 1872, Alexander Bell opened a school in Boston and named it "Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech" for deaf students. He also worked as a private tutor. Helen Keller was one of his well-known students. He first met Keller in 1887.
  • In 1873, he became the professor of Vocal Psychology and Elocution at the Boston University School of Oratory.
  • In the spring of 1874, Alexander Graham Bell experimented on the phonautograph, a device that helps in plotting sound waves. In the summer of the same year, he conceived the idea of a telephone. Thomas Watson started assisting Bell.
Alexander Graham Bell talking to Thomas Watson
On June 2, 1875, Thomas Watson happened to pluck one of the multiple metal reeds that formed Alexander Bell's apparatus. This accident demonstrated the working of a telephone, a device which could transmit sound!
U.S. Patent Office issued the patent numbered 174,465 to Bell, on 7th March 1876. It covered the method of and apparatus for transmitting sound waves telegraphically.
On the night following 3rd August 1876, Bell received a long-distance voice message from Brantford, 4 miles away. Then Bell began to publicly demonstrate and deliver lectures about his new invention.
In 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was formed. On 11th July, during the same year, Bell married Mabel Hubbard in Cambridge. By then, he had started signing by the name 'Alec' and not 'Aleck'. In 1880, their daughter was born. During the Fall of the same year, Bell received the Volta Prize from the French Government for his work in electricity.
  • In 1882, Bell became an American citizen. The following year, he started a school for deaf children in Washington D.C. Later that year, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
  • In March 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was formed. It would take care of the long distance business of the Bell Telephone Company.
  • In 1890, Bell, with his supporters formed the American Association to Promote teaching Speech to the Deaf. In 1892, he took part in the opening of the long distance telephone service from New York to Chicago.
  • In 1897, Bell was elected as President of the National Geographic Society. The following year, he became the Regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Until 1897, his teaching profession remained his main source of income. The invention of telephone was not profitable financially.
  • In 1899, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company acquired the Bell Telephone Company.
  • In 1907, Bell, on the suggestion of his wife, and with the help of four others, formed the Aerial Experiment Association and headed it.
On 25th January 1915, Bell called up Watson, across the continent. Thirty-eight years before this transcontinental call, the same two people had conversed on phone from just a few meters away! The recent call had a much better voice quality!
On August 2, 1922, Alexander Graham Bell died, leaving behind a legacy of inventions; the most notable one - our old friend - the telephone!
A metal detector, a metal jacket that helps breathing and an audiometer which can detect hearing problems are some of Bell's other inventions. But the one invention for which he was best known remains to be the telephone. Telephone - a brilliant machine that can transmit sound and enable communication between those who can 'speak' and 'hear'. Ironically, the man who invented it had a deaf mother and wife.