The story about the inspiration and love behind the creation of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Alexander ‘Alec’ Bell moved to Cambridge with his parents in 1873 from Edinburgh, Scotland. His father and grandfather were experts in speech, and Alec followed in their research as a teacher of the deaf. Bell’s mother was also deaf.
Bell was hired to teach at a school for the deaf, and was also hired to tutor Mabel Hubbard, whose father founded the school. Mabel had been deaf since five, after surviving scarlet fever.
Bell became a friend of the Hubbard family, and Mr. Hubbard invested in Bell’s research in telegraphy. The original idea was to use a single telegraph wire and play multiple tones so that more than one conversation could be monitored and transmitted at the same time. As Bell worked toward sending different tones, in the fashion his expertise was used in teaching the dead, he came to the conclusion that transmitting the voice over a wire was more useful. Over the next 4 years he developed his improvements in telephone that he patented on Valentines Day in 1876.
By this time Bell and Mabel had fallen in love and were married a year later. Mabel was a remarkable young woman, who could read lips at a young age with surprising accuracy. She also learned to lip read French—a rare ability at the time.
Mabel and Alec were supportive of each other and Bell always referred to himself as a teacher of the dead over all his other titles. It was deafness of his mother and future wife that impacted his life and inventions both in the telephone and other designs after.
Mabel became one of the first women to invest and study aerodynamics and built an airplane later in life, after the Wright brothers had flown at Kitty Hawk in 1903.
Both Alec and Mabel were full of ideas and accomplishments, as were their family members, including Mabel’s father—who started the National Geographic Society.
There is far more to these amazing people than a 90 second video can cover, but their inspiration is admirable, and the world changed from their vision and ingenuity.
Image Attribution: IPFF