What Did Alexander Graham Bell Invent?

did-alexander-graham-bell-invent Credit: Antar Dayal/Illustration Works/Getty Images

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the first practical, working telephone. His first words on the telephone was to his assistant in the next room, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." In addition to the telephone, Bell is known for his work with communication among the deaf, and held 18 patents in his name alone.

Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. He was part of a family known for their work in communication and speech among the deaf. This, along with his mother, who was an accomplished pianist despite being deaf, would influence his own interest in working with the deaf.

Bell moved to Boston in 1871 to teach at the Boston School for the Deaf. The next year, he began to tutor deaf students on his own. He also worked to perfect the harmonic telegraph, with the financial backing of Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, the fathers of two of his students.

In 1875, he hired Thomas Watson and together they worked on what would become the first telephone in 1876. A year later, on July 9, 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was founded. Two days later, Bell married Hubbard's daughter, Mabel, who had been one of his students.

Bell and his company would face 550 challenges to his telephone patent over 18 years. None were successful, and Bell continued to improve his device. He added the microphone, invented by Thomas Edison, to reduce the need to shout to be heard in the phone. On August 2, 1922, Bell died in Nova Scotia. The entire telephone system was shut down in tribute for 1 minute.