After creating the first transmission of speech by electrical wires in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell established the Bell Telephone system only a year later. And only two years after that, Bell was able to step away from the company’s board of directors to devote his life to further invention and philanthropy. At age 32, he was rich and famous and able to pursue other interests, including optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics. When Bell died in Nova Scotia in 1922, aged 75, his incredible achievements were recognized across North America. All phone service in the United States and Canada was shut down for one minute at the exact time his funeral began.
A family familiar with deafness:
- Bell was named after his grandfather, Alexander Bell, but was called “Aleck” by his family and friends during his childhood.
- Both his father and grandfather were speech therapists, and both his mother and wife were deaf. As a young man, Alexander helped his father promote a phonetic alphabet known as Visible Speech.
- Despite her deafness, Bell's mother was a proficient pianist. Her life and accomplishments taught Alexander Graham Bell how to look beyond people’s disadvantages and find ways to help them.