Alexander Graham Bell - Creativity and Innovation
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Scottish-born American (pictured right), who invented the telephone in 1876.
Why was he so creative?
1. Hard work
He strongly believed in making the most of his talent.
“A man is what he makes of himself”, he said.
He registered his patent for the telephone, only hours before another American, Elisha Grey
The race against him to be first had spurred Bell on.
Bell (pictured right below with his family in c1885) overcame several problems:
a) persistent failure
He had many failed experiments on the road to success.
b) lack of money
In 1876 he was short of money and wanted to sell his patent to the big telegraph company, Western
It turned him down, and so Bell set up his own telephone company, which later became
c) legal battle
When Western Union realized its mistake and put out its own version of the telephone, Bell brought a legal
action against them.
Bell won and became a millionaire.
4. Continuous small improvements
Bell was a big believer in gradual improvement through:
“The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”, he said.
(pictured right above is a Bell telephone in 1877)
5. Love of learning
From childhood, he was:
His inventions had to be practical and useful, like his first invention, a
wheat de-husking machine, when he was 11 or 12!
He worried that the wealth from the telephone would make him lazy
So he remained determined to keep on doing something worthwhile, particularly helping the
He was selfishly dedicated to its work, but he had a very loving and supportive deaf wife,
Mabel (pictured right).
Despite his happy family life, he loved being alone, thinking, reading and working late into
the night, when he thought best.
He usually worked from 9 or 10 p.m. to 4 or 5 a.m.
He was nagged by his wife, Mabel, if his night time piano solos disturbed their four children!
Key quotes on
Preparation is the key to success.
A man is what he makes of himself
When one door closes another opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we
do not see the ones which open for us.
Key quotes on
Perseverance must have some practical end.
Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods.
All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
Mr. Watson, come here, I want you – the first words Bell spoke on the telephone to his assistant.
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