Alexander Graham Bell - Research Paper Example

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Alexander Graham Bell The most important inventions are those which become so entwined into our daily lives that the nature of their invention is obscured. Inventions such as computer, television or car fall into this category of essential devices. Another prominent invention that falls into this category is telephone. Indeed, had the inventor of telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, never existed, the world would be an entirely different place. This essay considers Bell’s background and contributions to the contemporary world.
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847. From an early age Bell demonstrated great intellectual curiosity and potential. Bell “became interested in botany and at age twelve built a contraption to aid a neighbor in his flourmill” (Mackay, pg. 9). His father published texts on elocution and Bell demonstrated a strong propensity in this subject. Bell would later attend prestigious high school, followed by college, and was generally recognized as mediocre at both. Upon graduation Bell began experiments with sound following his father’s interest in elocution. His experiments would ultimately lead him to become “Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at Boston University” (Mackay, pg. 111).
While Bell experimented with a number of sound elements, his work with the telephone undoubtedly holds the greatest contemporary relevance. In this context of understanding, Bell had “begun experimenting with a phonautograph in 1874” (Town, pg. 189). While he recognized that he was on to something he realized lack of proper funding and knowledge to complete his final invention that would electronically transmit the human voice. These challenges were overcome when Bell first encountered Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders who would help fund his invention, as well as Thomas Watson who had the required knowledge in engineering to put it together. Ultimately, “in 1876 Bell would complete his invention of the telephone, three days after receiving the patent” (Ross, pg. 302). While later in his life Bell would invent the metal detector, his greatest cultural contribution is undoubtedly telephone.
Even as Bell made a substantial social contribution through his invention of telephone, the question of what the world would be like without Bell is a complicated one. While Bell invented the telephone, it’s clear that there were elements that emerged in contemporary technological platforms and allowed for this invention to occur. It is highly probable then, that if Bell had not invented his phone, it would have soon been invented by another individual. Notably, perhaps Bell’s greatest impact on the contemporary world is through his establishment of the Bell Telephone Company that would later undergo merging and become AT&T.
In conclusion, this essay has examined the background and cultural contributions of inventor Alexander Graham Bell. While Bell’s invention of telephone is undoubtedly the major cultural contribution, had Bell not invented it, it’s likely that another inventor would have. Ultimately one considers the nature of technological change as not simply emerging from a single person’s mind, but out of depths of collective unconscious that finds articulation in such monumental inventions like telephone.
Mackay, James. Sounds Out of Silence: A life of Alexander Graham Bell. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing Company, 1997.
Ross, Stewart. Alexander Graham Bell (Scientists who Made History series). New York: RaintreeSteck-Vaughn Publishers, 2001.
Town, Florida. Alexander Graham Bell. Toronto: Grolier Limited, 1988. Read More
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