Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory Notebook, 1875-1876


In his notebook entry of March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) described the first successful experiment with the telephone, during which he spoke through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room. Bell wrote: "I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: 'Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.' To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said." Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where his father, Alexander Melville Bell, was a teacher of the deaf and the inventor of Visible Speech, a method that helped to guide the deaf in learning to speak. Bell worked with his father, but moved to Canada in 1870 and to the United States in 1872, where he opened a school for teachers of the deaf and became a professor at Boston University. Bell’s deep interest in speech and hearing led him to experiment with the electrical transmission of human speech, the basic technology that underlies the telephone. Bell received a patent for the telephone on March 7, 1876, three days before the actual transmission described in the notebook took place. He went on to found the Bell Telephone Company, to develop other devices for transmitting and recording sound, and to promote the early development of aviation.

Last updated: May 24, 2017