Friday, September 22, 2006
Try holding THAT to your ear while driving.
Imagine: If Alexander Graham Bell's assistant had been a dog, the first words uttered over telephone wires would have been, "Here, boy."
Bell was born in 1847 to a family involved in elocution. His father taught deaf-mutes to speak by watching the motions of other peoples' lips, a system that came to be known as lip reading.
Bell developed an early interest in creating a machine to ameliorate his mother's deafness. He designed a piano that could transmit music over large distances electrically, and sought to produce an instrument that would articulate speech as well.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. It makes you wonder where we would be if his mother had not been deaf. We are constantly advised to make lemonade when life hands us lemons, and I think this is good advice, although I don't always appreciate it at the time. Adversity helps us to realize our full potential, if it doesn't kill us first. When the livin' is easy, I tend to just enjoy, and stagnate. I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I know that most of my own growth has resulted from pain and hardship. Which is sad, because I so prefer pleasure and comfort.
Bell married Mabel Hubbard, who was also a deaf-mute, and many of his inventions resulted from his attempts to communicate with her. I'm guessing she didn't nag him. It's unlikely he would have accomplished all he did if his muse had been gifted with speech.
He invented the photophone, transmission of sound on a beam of light, a precursor of today's fiber optics and laser communications. His patents include 14 for the telephone and telegraph, 4 for the photophone, 1 for the phonograph, 5 for aerial vehicles, 4 for hydroairplanes, and 2 for a selenium cell which was itself utilized in many later designs.
My husband wants to know if he also invented the Phone Bill. "That was a real lousy one," he says. I told him that's the price you pay for a wife who can talk.