Alexander Graham Bell had two great passions: helping the deaf and inventing. He was born in 1847 in Scotland, where his father taught the art of public speaking and helped deaf people learn to speak. When Alexander was a young man, his family immigrated to Canada, and he soon moved south to Boston, Massachusetts, where he opened a school for teachers of the deaf.
In Boston, Bell grew fascinated with the idea of developing a way to send voices over telegraph wires. He became fast friends with a young mechanic named Thomas Watson, who helped him with his experiments.
For months, the two tinkered with electric currents, switches, and reeds. March 10, 1876, brought one of the great moments in the history of invention. Bell was hard at work in his laboratory, preparing to test a new transmitter he had recently designed, when he spilled some battery acid on his clothes. “Mr. Watson, come here! I want you!” he called. Watson rushed from another room to Bell’s side, not with alarm, but with excitement. He had heard Bell’s call on their instrument. It was the first time words had ever traveled over a wire. Alexander Graham Bell had just given the world the telephone.
The next year, the young inventor launched the Bell Telephone Company, which grew into one of the world’s largest corporations. But Bell had little interest in business. He spent the rest of his life coming up with new ideas and finding ways to help the deaf. He became a proud U.S. citizen in 1882 and is still remembered as one of America’s greatest inventors.