This Day in History
Bell Invents the Telephone

Bell Invents the Telephone
March 7, 1876

Like so many others who have contributed to the progress of science in America, Alexander Bell was born abroad - in Edinburgh, Scotland. A teacher in a school for the deaf in London, Alexander worked closely with his father, Alexander Melville Bell, who had developed a special speech and hearing system for the deaf. Immigrating with his family to Nova Scotia, young Alexander moved to Boston where he opened a training school for teachers of the deaf in 1872. He also served as Professor of the Mechanics of Speech at Boston University. It was to advance the cause of the deaf that he worked ceaselessly to invent mechanical devices which would alleviate their handicap. Out of this work would come the first effective telephone. Bell improved on his invention and in the summer of 1876 was able to provide the first public demonstration of the invention at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Within a year, Bell and his associates organized the Bell Telephone Company which grew, eventually, into one of the largest corporations in America: The American Telephone and Telegraph Company, AT&T. The telephone quickly became a necessity of life. By 1892, “long distance” telephones connected New York and Chicago; and by 1915, they spanned the continent from Boston to San Francisco. Within one hundred years of Bell’s invention, some fifty million telephones were in operation in the United States alone. Through its practice of employing women as “operators,” the telephone has made a lasting impact on the emergence of women into the world of business and commerce.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.