50 Interesting Facts About Alexander Graham Bell

Last updated on March 19th, 2023

38. In the 1890s, Bell decided to branch out and pursue his other interests. He tried his hand in aviation experiments and in no time at all, he created enormous manned tetrahedral kites.

39. Bell took over the presidency of a scientific society in 1898, known as the National Geographic Society. Along with his son-in-law, Bell developed National Geographic magazine, which became one of the most popular magazines in the world. He also collaborated in founding Science magazine.

40. Bell spent the last 40 years of his life living in Canada with his wife and his two daughters, Elsie and Marian.

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck.
Alexander Graham Bell national historic site in Baddeck, NS. Interior view of full scale Silver Dart and HD-4 vehicles. Photo © Howard Sandler

41. In Canada in 1909, the AEA Silver Dart – one of the first aircraft – completed its first powered flight. Thanks to Bell’s guidance, the plane’s co-designer, John McCurdy, flew the plane for half of a mile over Nova Scotia. After spending a few weeks making some minor adjustments in Bell’s workshop, the plane was able to fly over 22 miles. By that summer, the Silver Dart even flew the very first passenger in to Canadian airspace.

42. It would not be until January 15, 1915 that Bell would place the very first transcontinental phone call. From New York City, Bell called Watson all the way in San Francisco.

43. Bell was known to be a helpful guy. When the editor of a local paper experienced trouble with his phone, Bell went to lend a hand and immediately discovered the culprit was a fly trapped in the earpiece. When asked how he knew what the problem was, Bell rightly declared that it was because he had invented “the instrument.”

44. He dreamt of airplanes that could lift off from water, and this dream motivated Bell to create a design of boats with hydrofoil wings that would essentially allow them to skip over water at a high speed. He then helped make an HD-4 model that reached 70 miles per hour in a 1919 test in Nova Scotia and set a world record for water-speed.

45. When he was 75, Bell received his final patent, which was for the fastest hydrofoil.

46. Bell grew ill due to complications from diabetes. On August 2, 1922, Alexander Graham Bell passed away in the comfort of his own home in Nova Scotia.

47. Two days after his death, all telephone services in North America were silenced for one full minute at the exact time that Bell was lowered into his grave. The 60,000 working telephone operators stood in silence and did not connect any calls, forcing 13 million telephones over the continent to go silent as well.

48. Bell’s legacy did not end after his death. In the 1920s, to honor his work in acoustical science, the standard unit used to measure sound wave intensity was named the “bel”. One-tenth of a bel is known as a decibel and has become the most widely used metric to measure noise magnitude.

49. During one of Bell’s experiments in recording, he stated, “hear my voice!” These recordings are safely located in a museum, along with many other records he created at Volta Laboratory.

50. Due to early technology and a great fear of ruining them, his recordings could not be played for decades. Finally, three scientists developed a system called IRENE, which stands for Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc. This system takes photos of recordings but does not touch them and uses those photos to translate them into literal sound. Now, Bell’s voice can be heard forever.

Alexander Graham Bell Quotes

1. What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.

2. A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with – a man is what he makes of himself.

3. The most successful men, in the end, are those whose success is the result of steady accretion.

4. Concentrate all of your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

5. Perseverance must have some practical end, or it does not avail the man possessing it. A person without a practical end in view becomes a crank or an idiot. Such persons fill our asylums.

6. When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

7. Educate the masses, elevate their standard of intelligence, and you will certainly have a successful nation.

8. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.

9. Wherever you may find the inventor, you may give him wealth or you may take from him all that he has; and he will go on inventing. He can no more help inventing that he can help thinking or breathing.

10. I would impress upon your minds the fact that if you want to do a man justice, you should believe what a man says himself rather than what people say he says.

11. America is a country of inventors, and the greatest of inventors are the newspaper men.

Alexander Bell – quick facts

BornAlexander Bell March 3, 1847 Edinburgh, Scotland
DiedAugust 2, 1922 (aged 75) Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, Canada
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom (1847–1922)
British-subject in Canada (1870–1882)
United States (1882–1922)
Languages KnownEnglish, Scottish Gaelic, Latin and Ancient Greek
Age at the time of death75 years
Field of WorkInventor, scientist,
engineer, professor, teacher of the deaf
Awards1. Hughes Medal

2. Elliott Cresson Medal

3. IEEE Edison Medal

4. John Fritz Medal
Known forInvention of the telephone, Co-founder of Bell Canada & AT&T
EducationUniversity of Edinburgh
University College London
ParentsAlexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace Symonds Bell
SiblingEdward Charles Bell and Melville James Bell
SpousesMabel Gardiner Hubbard ​ ​(m. 1877)
Children1. Elsie May Bell
2. Marian Hubbard
3. Edward Bell
4. Robert Bell
Height5' 8''