As early as 1865, Bell conceived the idea of transmitting speech by electric waves. In 1875, while he was experimenting with a multiple harmonic telegraph, the principle of transmission and reproduction came to him. By Mar. 10, 1876, his apparatus was so far developed that the first complete sentence transmitted, "Watson, come here; I want you," was distinctly heard by his assistant. The first demonstration took place before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston on May 10, 1876, and a more significant one, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition the same year, introduced the telephone to the world. The Bell Telephone Company was organized in July, 1877. A long period of patent litigation followed in which Bell's claims were completely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
With the 50,000 francs awarded him as the Volta Prize for his invention, he established in Washington, D.C., the Volta Laboratory, where the first successful sound recorder, the Graphophone, was produced. Bell invented the photophone, which transmitted speech by light rays; the audiometer, another invention for the deaf; the induction balance, used to locate metallic objects in the human body; and the flat and the cylindrical wax recorders for phonographs. He investigated the nature and causes of deafness and made an elaborate study of its heredity.
In 1880 the magazine Science, which became the official organ for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was founded largely through his influence. Bell was president of the National Geographic Society from 1898 to 1903 and was made a regent of the Smithsonian Institution in 1898. After 1895 his interest was occupied largely by aviation. He invented the tetrahedral kite. The Aerial Experiment Association, founded under his patronage in 1907, brought together G. H. Curtiss, F. W. Baldwin, and others, who invented the aileron principle and developed the hydroplane.
See biographies by C. D. Mackenzie (1928, repr. 1971), A. Johnson (1985), E. S. Grosvenor and M. Wesson (1997), and T. Foster (1998).
See biography by R. Southey and C. C. Southey (3 vol., 1844); J. M. D. Meiklejohn, An Old Educational Reformer (1881).
See C. Bell's Old Friends (1956); biography of Vanessa Bell by F. Spalding (1983); R. Marler, ed., Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell (1993).
See his letters (ed. by his wife, 1870); biographies by E. Bramwell (1935) and Sir Gordon Gordon-Taylor and E. W. Walls (1958).
See her Earlier Letters (ed. by E. Richmond, 1937) and Letters (new ed. 1947); biographies by J. Kamm (1956), A. Northgrave (1958), J. Wallach (1995), and G. Howell (2007).
See biography by J. H. Parks (1950).
A portable set of bells, usually not more than 15 in number, tuned to the intervals of the major scale, is known as a chime and were first used by the ancient Chinese. A carillon is a larger stationary set with chromatic intervals and as many as 70 bells, which are played from a keyboard. Harmonies and effects of shading, not possible on a chime, are part of the art of carillon playing—an art for which there is a school in Belgium. The bells of a carillon must be tuned with more accuracy than those of a chime; the best modern craftsmen can tune the fundamental (known as the hum note), the octave (known as the strike note), the twelfth, and the fifteenth with perfect accuracy.
An interesting and unexplained illusion manifest in bells is their apparent pitch (strike note): the pitch the observer hears can often be scientifically proved to be different from any of the pitches produced by the bell. Bells have been known in all metal-using cultures and civilizations and have been used in connection with all major religions except Islam. Many legends and traditions are associated with bells, which have been used for signaling, in dancing, and as protective charms. Apparently originating in Asia, in early times bells were employed for religious purposes and were used in Christianity by the 6th cent. Early bells were blessed with holy water, in the belief that dedication to Christian service gave power to ward off lightning.
Sets of bells tuned to a musical scale and called cymbala were used in the Middle Ages for musical instruction and to accompany chant in churches. In the 13th cent., tower bells were attached to clocklike mechanisms to strike the hours. The carillon developed out of the Belgian voorslag of the 15th cent., a set of bells attached to a large tower clock that played a tune before striking the hour. In the Low Countries, where the making and playing of carillons centered, the principal cities vied over the size and complexity of their instruments. A peak in European carillon making was reached in the work of the brothers Frans (1609-67) and Pieter (1619-80) Hemony of Amsterdam. The carillonneur's art flourished until the 18th cent., declining during the French Revolution, when many carillons were melted to make armaments.
Toward the end of the 19th cent., English bellmakers rediscovered the secrets of tuning that had been used by the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish craftsmen. This, with improvements in methods of striking, in placement of the bells, and in action of the keyboard, has made 20th-century carillons the finest in existence. Active in a renaissance of carillon music was Jef Denijn (1862-1941), carillonneur of Mechlin. Since World War I many carillons have been installed in the United States; outstanding is that of the Riverside Church, New York (1930), whose 20.5-ton bourdon bell is the largest ever cast in England. The largest bell in the world was the Great Bell of Moscow; cast in 1733-35, it was broken in a fire in 1737.
See P. D. Peery, Chimes and Electric Carillons (1948); W. G. Wilson, Change Ringing (1965); S. N. Coleman, Bells (1928, repr. 1971); H. R. Jones, About Bells and Bell Ringing (1986); R. Johnston et al., An Atlas of Bells (1990).
Bell may refer to:
The word "bell" also can mean a signal from a engine order telegraph on a ship or submarine.