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How a Scottish Inventor Helped Shape Modern Society

You would imagine dear reader. But iVisit who is this Scot that helped to shape Modern Society? I have only one answer, Alexander Graham Bell.

Not many would think that one of the key inventors that contributed to the world we know today would come from Scotland. Can you guess who it might be?

It is none other than Alexander Graham Bell.

Alexander Graham Bell demonstrating the telephone

Without him, we would probably not even be able to use our smartphones today!

Born and raised in Edinburgh in the mid 19th Century, Alexander, from a very young age would invest his time into investigating the secrets of speech and phonetics – likely due to his as his father and grandfather being phoneticians.

He later went onto creating a visible phonetic alphabet called “Visible Speech”.

You might be wondering, what inspired him to become so proficient in this field? Well, what you may not know was that both his mother and wife were deaf.

but only that wasn’t his only source of inspiration, upon witnessing the works of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen and his efforts in reproducing a human through automaton voice – blew Alexander away. So much so that he fell in love with the machine and quickly bought a copy of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen studies, so he could start his own research after dropping out of the university at 15 years old.

Euphonia the talking Automaton

But how did he come to invent the phone? After many attempts, he and his brother managed to create a machine that could say the word “Mama” and then used their family dog to comprehend how could they manipulate sounds to cater to their needs. But tragedy struck, when his brother became terminally ill and died, then his father got sick and barely survived having to be hospitalised. After these tragic events, the Bells set their sights on the “New World”.

map of old Canada
Old Canadian Map

After moving to Canada, Bell would get a major breakthrough with his bi-directional transmitter saying the legendary words to his assistant Thomas Watson, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you”. Later, he would create the Bell Telephone Company which after many problems with Patents, other companies and inventors such as Thomas Edison managed to secure his right to the machine.

Bell and Watson discussing the Telephone

As he filed U.S. Parent No. 174465 he would then do public performances of his new invention along with the USA. He would not stop there, but also continue his research on other types of inventions such as the Photophone (which was his try on a wireless telephone) and a Metal Detector. He even dealt with Hydrofoils and Aeronautics as he was experimenting with Hydroplanes.

HD-4 at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum

14 S Charlotte St, Edinburgh EH2 4AS

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