Friday, September 22, 2006

Mr. Watson, Come Here!

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.

Here, boy.


mist1 said...

I called Sprint today to tell them that clearly my bill is wrong because I definately could not have talked for that long. I explained myself for over 40 minutes before realizing that I was using up my daytime minutes. Damn.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I guess you don't have that deaf-mute thing going on either, huh?

Michael C said...

MAybe if our phones looked like that, we woudln't feel so compelled to use them when driving or in public places ;-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

People could bench press them while driving and talking, just to make the whole operation even safer.

Odat said...

He was surrounded by deaf women all his life? I guess he was happy!! But he had to invent something so at least someone could hear him what he had to say...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Maybe THAT is what men really want. I wish I could tell Slow Turtle.

It's amazing to me that someone could be a career inventor. He dabbled in solar heating and air conditioning, too -- in the early 1900's.

katrice said...

There is an old deacon in the church I grew up in who is an inventor. I don't remember the patents he holds, but they are numerous. He has always seemed to be so happy all the time. I've always figured it takes a special person to be innovative enough to find solutions to problems. Cool post!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

He was a very cool guy. My intention was to post a picture of the first phone because the thought of using it like a cell made me laugh. But when I read about him, he blew me away.

I really admire such original minds that not only think outside the box, but are not even aware that there IS a box.