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Queen's University
 

Queen's Encyclopedia

Bell, Alexander Melville (1819-1905)

Queen's has an indirect connection to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, through his father, Alexander Melville Bell, who enjoyed a brief but colourful tenure at Queen's.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the elder Bell taught the now obscure subject of elocution at Queen's for three years in the late 1870s, having previously taught the subject at the Universities of Edinburgh and London. He also set up an experimental telephone at the university in December 1877, two years after his son's famous experiment with the phone in Boston.

The Queen's Journal wrote about the experiment in January of 1878:

A successful experiment with the telephone was made at the termination of Prof Bell's Lectures before the Christmas vacation. The wire connected a room in Principal Grant's residence with the Classical Class Room. Prof Bell's rendering of the 'Cavalry Charge at Balaklava' sounded beautifully through the Telephone.

Bell received 75% of the Canadian patents to the telephone in 1877, but sold them to National Bell (USA) in 1880. He died in Washington, DC.

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