1922 – Alexander Graham Bell dies

Alexander Graham Bell, best known as the inventor of the telephone, was 75 when he died, and still refused to have a telephone in his laboratory. He regarded his most famous – and most transformative – invention as a nuisance and a distraction from his serious work. The telephone itself had arisen out of Bell’s true interests in acoustics, which grew out of his work as a teacher for the deaf: he had wanted to invent a device that would make it possible for the deaf to hear, the fact that he may well have stolen the idea from Elisha Gray notwithstanding.

The telephone is merely his best known invention – Bell held the patent for that, but also for 17 other inventions (some of them held in common with other, but most in his own right). Bell’s death was the result of complications arising from his diabetes. He left behind a legacy that has, over the course of less than 150 years and with many followers building on his work, transformed the world beyond recognition. One wonders what he’d think of the iPhone.

Referenced in:

Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone

It is arguably one of the most transformative inventions of all time: the telephone is on a par with the wheel or the taming of fire in terms of its effect on our society.

It all starts here. Alexander Graham Bell had been wroking on the telephone for three years already at this point, and he was not the only one. Indeed, his closest rival, Elisha Gray, filed for his patent on the same day Bell did (February 26). But it was Bell who got the patent, and who went on to make millions from it.

The famous first successful phone call actually took place 3 days later, on March 10, and Bell never looked back. Which is in some ways unfortunate, as his belief in eugenics would not have been nearly so influential had he not been so rich.

Still, he transformed everything – you wouldn’t be reading this today, on a computer or a mobile phone, without him.

Referenced in:

Alexander Graham Bell — Sweet
Alexander Graham Bell — Richard Thompson