Alexander Graham Bell


Alexander Graham Bell : biography

March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922

In 1936 the US Patent Office declared Bell first on its list of the country’s greatest inventors,Beauchamp, Christopher. , Technology and Culture, Vol. 51, No. 4, October 2010, p. 878 (of pp. 854–878), DOI: 10.1353/tech.2010.0038. leading to the US Post Office issuing a commemorative stamp honoring Bell in 1940 as part of its ‘Famous Americans Series’. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held on October 28 in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where Bell spent considerable time on research and working with the deaf. The Bell stamp became very popular and sold out in little time. The stamp became, and remains to this day, the most valuable one of the series.Scott’s United States Stamp catalogue.

The 150th anniversary of Bell’s birth in 1997 was marked by a special issue of commemorative £1 banknotes from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The illustrations on the reverse of the note include Bell’s face in profile, his signature, and objects from Bell’s life and career: users of the telephone over the ages; an audio wave signal; a diagram of a telephone receiver; geometric shapes from engineering structures; representations of sign language and the phonetic alphabet; the geese which helped him to understand flight; and the sheep which he studied to understand genetics. Rampant Scotland. Retrieved: October 14, 2008. Additionally, the Government of Canada honored Bell in 1997 with a C$100 gold coin, in tribute also to the 150th anniversary of his birth, and with a silver dollar coin in 2009 to honor of the 100th anniversary of flight in Canada. That first flight was made by an airplane designed under Dr. Bell’s tutelage, named the Silver Dart Royal Canadian Mint. Retrieved: June 12, 2010. Bell’s image, and also those of his many inventions have graced paper money, coinage and postal stamps in numerous countries worldwide for many dozens of years.

Bell’s name is widely known and still used as part of the names of dozens of educational institutes, corporate namesakes, street and place names around the world. Alexander Graham Bell was also ranked 57th among the 100 Greatest Britons (2002) in an official BBC nationwide poll, and among the Top Ten Greatest Canadians (2004), and the 100 Greatest Americans (2005). BBC News World Edition, August 21, 2002. Retrieved: April 5, 2010. Retrieved: December 29, 2009. In 2006, Bell was also named as one of the 10 greatest Scottish scientists in history after having been listed in the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Scottish Science Hall of Fame’. Scottish Science Hall of Fame. Retrieved: April 5, 2010.

Honorary degrees

Alexander Graham Bell, who could not complete the university program of his youth, received numerous Honorary Degrees from academic institutions, including:

  • Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. (PhD) in 1880 Retrieved: July 28, 2010.
  • Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts (LL.D) in 1896
  • University of Würzburg in Würzburg, Bavaria (PhD) in 1902
  • University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland (LL.D) in April 1906, July 12, 2010. Retrieved: July 28, 2010.
  • Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1909
  • Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (LL.D) on June 25, 1913 The New York Times. Retrieved: July 30, 2009.


  • “In scientific researches, there are no unsuccessful experiments; every experiment contains a lesson. If we don’t get the results anticipated and stop right there, it is the man that is unsuccessful, not the experiment.”

, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, 1921–1930 (Volume XV), University of Toronto and Université Laval, 2000. Retrieved March 1, 2013.

  • “We are all too much inclined, I think, to walk through life with our eyes closed… We should not keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone; we should leave the beaten track occasionally and enter the woods. Every time you do that you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before…. Follow it up, explore all around it; one discovery will lead to another, and before you know it you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind, for all really big discoveries are the results of thought.”
  • “God has strewn our paths with wonders, and we shall certainly not go through Life with our eyes shut.” (1872)
  • “To ask the value of speech is like asking the value of life.”, website.
  • “The inventor is a man who looks around upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea. The spirit of invention possesses him, seeking materialization.” (1891)
  • “I have always considered myself as an Agnostic, but I have now discovered that I am a Unitarian Agnostic.” (1901)
  • "The day will come when the man at the telephone will be able to see the distant person to whom he is speaking" (c.1906), New York Times, April 8, 1927, pg.20.
  • “[It will not be long until] a man can take dinner in New York and breakfast the next morning in Liverpool” (1907). “The nation that secures control of the air will ultimately rule the world” (1908).
  • “Every town or city has a vast expanse of roof exposed to the sun. There is no reason why we should not use the roofs of our houses to install solar apparatus to catch and store the heat received from the sun. Solar heat [can be used]…. to heat a liquid and store the liquid in an insulated tank… applying even the Thermos bottle principle of a partial vacuum around the tank.” (1914)Grosvenor and Wesson 1997, p. 269.
  • “Coal and oil are……strictly limited in quantity. We can take coal out of a mine but we can never put it back.” “What shall we do when we have no more coal or oil?”Grosvenor and Wesson 1997, p. 274. “[The unchecked burning of fossil fuels] would have a sort of greenhouse effect.” “The net result is the greenhouse becomes a sort of hot-house.”(1917).
  • “Self-education is a life-long affair. There cannot be mental atrophy in any person who continues to observe, to remember what he observes, and to seek answers for his unceasing hows and whys about things.”Grosvenor and Wesson 1997, p. 275.