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2006-07-28 17:30

  It is such a common occurrence that no one ever wonders from whence it came. But the telephone has a fascinating story behind it, one that could be entitled. "The Conquest of Solitude. " It is the story of Alexander Graham Bell.


  He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1847, the son of a man who was consumed, passionately consumed, with the workings of the human voice, how it is produced and used, and especially, in teaching the deaf how to use it. For in those days, you see, the deaf lived in permanent solitude. Not only could they not hear, they could not speak. After all, how could they pronounce words, they couldn't hear? Perhaps this obsession of the elder Bell was one of the reasons he married whom he did. For the woman who would give birth to the inventor of the telephone…… was deaf!


  Young Alexander Graham Bell grew up with his father's passions. In 1870, because of poor health, he migrated to Canada. It was not long before his success in teaching the deal to speak brought him to the attention of a wealthy merchant in Boston who had a deaf daughter, Mabel. Would Mr. Bell please teach Mabel how to speak? Yes, he would. And did. And they fell in love. It was she who inspired him through an of the exhausting experiments. who pulled him through the clepressioljs that often irtflict those whose drive to succeed is so intense, while he developed the then remarkable instrument that transformed speech into electrical impulses that could then be converted back into human speech at the end of a wire. he had pierced yet another solitude, the one that up until then had denied human speech between people distant from one another. A year later, in 1877, he and Mabel were married. He later became an American citizen.


  Oh, ALexander Grahahl Bell was showered with the praise of the world. Honors came to him from all the points of the compass. Yes, he would go on to other discoveries, many of them. But in his own view, he was most proud of his efforts to help the deaf.


  So, when the government of France awarded him the Volta Prize for inventing the telephone, he combined this monetary award with the money hye made from selling the patent on another invention to establish the Volta Bureau in Washington, D. C. . Its purpose was to fund research on deafness. Today, it is called the Alexander Graham Bell Association. Its role has been changed to providing the latest information to the deaf of the world on how best to cope with their disability.


  Alexander Graham Bell died in 1922: Mabel five months later. She loved him that much. His name is likely to live as long as man recalls history. After all, there is this constant reminder of how he brought the human family into closer touch.


  The first voice to travel over a wire was even a surprise for its inventor. Alexander Graham Bell. He was experimenting in his laboratory late one night, and quite by accident he succeeded in transmitting a message to his assistant in the next room. What Mr. Bell could not know at the time was that that night in 1876 would mark the start of a revolution in communications.


  At first, two iron wires connected each pair of telephones. Then switchboards brought phone wires into one location. Other inventions - the vacuum tube to amplify sound, and coaxial cables to link long distances on land and under the seas —— greatly expanded phone service. Transistors replaced the old vacuum tubes, and by the 1960s communications satellites eliminated the necessity of landlines. Today, bundles of glass fibers carry calls on laser beams of light.


  Many of these inventions-including sound motion pictures and stereo recording, along with 23,00 other patents-come from AT&T Bell Laboratories founded in 1925. John Davis is executive director of Bell Laboratories Consumer Products Division. He says, as we move into the 1900s, we can expect even greater flexibility in telecommunications.


  It is hard to imagine a world without the telephone. Our lives have grown to depend on computers linked into phone lines to do our shopping, our banking, or helping us through a typical day work.


  When you walk into your office, the first thing you do is to turn on the computer and pull up your electronic mail for the day. Of course, your electronic mail does not come in through the mailbox, bit comes in through telephone lines. The nice thing is you can turn them around by simply forwarding back without having to worry about addressing or stamping or enveloping the information to the person that sent you the message.


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