Alexander Melville Bell

Alexander Melville Bell, educator, founder of the Canadian telephone industry (b at Edinburgh, Scot 1 Mar 1819; d at Washington, DC 7 Aug 1905). He was the father of Alexander Graham Bell.

Bell, Alexander Melville
Alexander Melville Bell with his wife, Eliza Grace Symonds and their children, Melville James, Alexander Graham (c 1852, Gilbert H. Grosvenor Collection, Library of Congress).

Alexander Melville Bell, educator, founder of the Canadian telephone industry (b at Edinburgh, Scot 1 Mar 1819; d at Washington, DC 7 Aug 1905). He was the father of Alexander Graham Bell. Prior to moving his family to Tutela Heights near Brantford, Ontario, in the 1870s, he was professor of elocution at the universities of London and Edinburgh. He invented "visible speech," a written code especially useful to the deaf, which indicates exactly how all human vocal sounds are made, and he authored several texts on this subject.

Receiving 75% of the Canadian patents to the telephone in 1877, Bell proceeded to hire agents to solicit telephone rentals; the instruments were to be attached to private lines owned by the lessees. Failing to find a Canadian buyer for the patents, he sold them to National Bell (US) in 1880. In Canada he was professor of elocution at Queen's College, Kingston, Ontario, before moving to Washington, DC, in 1881.