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Alexander Graham Bell

Bonnie Bader

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Mother nearly deaf, but she had become a good piano player by using a speaking tube to hear the vibrations. As a child he spent a year with his grandfather(also named Alexander Bell) who was ateacher at deaf school in London.

Family moved to Boston where father and son taught deaf children. Several parents heard of AGB's inventions and backed him to build an improved telegraph that could send multiple simultaneous messages.

He found a skilled craftsman named Thomas Watson. (Watson got rich from invention of telephone and went on to found the largest shipbuilding company in America).

They found they cd send a sound down wire as an electrical signal. At that stage his backers urged him to patent the process. AGB dithered, so eventually the backers filed the patent papersthemselves. It was very lucky that they did, bc another inventor, Elisha Gray, filed for same patent just two hours later.

Backers offered to allow Western Union (which controlled the telegrah business) right to sell the telephone for $100,000. They turned him down, soformed own company, Bell Telephone Company.

First telephone operators were teenage boys, since they had been ones working telegraph system. But quickly realized needed softer, more patient voices, so hired young women. It quickly became the second most popular job in America (after teaching.)

At age of 32, AGB decided he was unsuited to run a company, andthat he really just wanted to tinker with inventions. After death of infant son, he invented a breathing machine that was forerunner of iron lung.

His father-in-law, Gardiner Greene hubbard, who had also got rich from backing AGB's telephone, started National Geographic Magazine. When he died, AGB took over as president. He hired a talented young editor named Gilbert Grosvenor with a brief to build the mag.

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