Invention at Play

Inventors’ Stories
Back to Inventors’ Stories

Alexander Graham Bell, Telephone Inventor
< 1 2 3 4 5 6 >

Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel

Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel

More Photography:

Bell’s ring kite in flight
Bell’s ring kite in flight

Bell’s sketches for kites
Bell’s sketches for kites

Bell in the lake, head only above water, smoking a cigar
Bell in the lake, head only above water, smoking a cigar

How Bell Borrowed from Nature

Alexander Graham Bell and his parents moved from Britain to Brantford, Ontario, Canada, in 1870. Their new property overlooked the Grand River. At the edge of the bluff Bell found a spot he called his “dreaming place.” He often took his books and a blanket there to read and think for hours.

While enjoying the view of the valley and river below, Bell would mentally work through problems he was having with various invention ideas. It was here that he came up with some initial insights that led to the telephone’s development.

Bell’s lifelong interest in nature and science also led to a variety of other invention ideas, including years of experiments with flight, from designing kites to airplanes.

Bell found inspiration in the natural world in two ways. One was careful observation of how things work--the vibrations in the bones and membrane of the human ear, the flight of birds, and the properties of wind. The other source was his lifelong habit of reflection, often done out of doors. He found space and time to think and dream.

Many inventors talk of a similar approach--a keen understanding of their tools and materials combined with time to let the mind wander and reflect. These habits of mind have their roots in the curiosity and fantasy play of children.

Next: Bell as a Youth ›

skip navigation

Email Telephone


Email this to a friend!
Make a virtual phone call to your friends and help them learn about Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone!

send to friends

National Museum of American History, Behring Center Invention Playhouse Inventors’ Stories Does play Matter? Exhibit Info Resources Contact Us Site Map Site Credits Lemelson Center