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Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore all around it, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the results of thought.

~Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor~

Prominent Inventions

Alexander Graham Bell's journey that resulted in the invention of the telephone commenced with the building of an automaton head that simulated human voice. This invention, though very rudimentary, could articulate a few words and was inspired by Sir Charles Wheatstone's similar invention. Graham Bell's primary interest in the transmission of sound stemmed from his concern regarding his mother's gradual deafness. This interest took on a more serious note after the initial experiment, and he began working on the transmission of sound, using tuning forks to explore resonance. In the years to come, his experiments continued alongside his teaching career.

Telephone

Around the year 1874, Graham Bell's work on the harmonic telegraph began to show results. While the world was looking for a way to send multiple telegraph messages on a single telegraph line, Bell was working on a device that would transmit the human voice by telegraph. His efforts were supported by wealthy patrons, which enabled him to hire Thomas A. Watson, an electrical designer and mechanic. Together, they developed the acoustic telegraph in 1875.

There exists a longstanding debate as to whom the credit for creating the first model of the telephone goes to. Many believe it is Elisha Gray, an inventor who at the same time, was also experimenting with acoustic telegraphy, and had found a way to transmit speech using a water transmitter. Though they filed patents on the same day, Bell was issued patent 174,465 first, on March 7, 1876, for his invention.

One fact remains, that a few days after receiving his patent, Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work using a liquid transmitter like the one in Gray's design! In his defense, after March 1876, he focused on improving the electromagnetic telephone he designed and never used Gray's liquid transmitter for commercial use. A series of demonstrations to introduce the invention which began on August 3, 1876, were received with much enthusiasm and led him to worldwide recognition. This led to the setting up of the Bell Telephone Company in 1877. Over the years, engineers at the Bell Company made constant improvements to the telephone, leading to better clarity and functionality. By 1915, Bell made transcontinental telephone calls possible.

Metal Detector

Alexander Graham Bell invented the world's first metal detector in 1881. Some of the technology that went into making the metal detector already existed. Bell incorporated this know-how and produced a fairly crude version. Even though, it was not as sophisticated as the present-day metal detectors when it was tested, it worked perfectly. It was even used in an attempt to locate a bullet lodged inside the body of U.S. President James Garfield. Unfortunately, at this critical time, it failed to perform. Popular opinion dictates that this might have occurred because the president lay on a bed with a metal frame, which may have confused the device.

Hydrofoils

Hydrofoils refer to wing like objects attached below the hull of a boat. They are primarily used to smoothen a boat's movement on the water surface and increase its speed.
Two pioneers in the field of hydrofoils were William E. Meacham and Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini. Inspired by their publications and works, Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Frederick W. "Casey" Baldwin met Forlanini in Italy around 1910. During this visit, Bell rode on Forlanini's model of hydrofoil boat. Soon after, on returning to Canada, Alexander Bell and Casey Baldwin started developing their very own hydrofoil watercraft. After several years of experimentation, Bell created the HD-4 prototype by affixing Renault engines to it. This craft could sail at a record speed of 114 km/hour, something which no other watercraft could compete with for the next 20 years.

Dehusking Device

Although Alexander Bell is well-known for the above three inventions, I feel the need to mention the way in which he invented the humble dehusking device. This device was invented when Alexander Bell was just 12 years of age. Once he was out visiting his friend Ben Herdman, at his family-owned floor mill. While looking around, he realized how laborious, dehusking of wheat grains could be. He promptly started work on creating an easy-to-use dehusking device. The device which he created contained a set of nail brushes along with some rotating paddles. It eased the dehusking job significantly and was used in the floor mill for several years.

Apart from these, Bell worked on creating an audiometer to detect minor hearing problems, a device to locate icebergs, and on finding alternative fuels. His concern with finding solutions to deafness never died out and he spent a significant part of his life teaching speech to the deaf. Very few of his inventions have been patented.

Patented Inventions

For his works, 18 patents were held solely by him and he shared another 12 patents with his collaborators. Out of these,
  • 14 patents pertain to Telephone and Telegraph
  • 4 patents pertain to Photophone
  • 1 patent pertains to Phonograph
  • 2 patents pertain to Selenium Cells
  • 4 patents pertain to Hydro Airplanes
  • 5 patents pertain to Aerial Vehicles
This brilliant mind made many contributions to the fields of science and technology. His invention of the telephone revolutionized the way people around the world would communicate with each other. This technological invention made such an impact, that it changed the way they lived their lives.