Editor’s Note: Professor Bernard Carlson is Chair of the Department of Engineering and Society in the UVA Engineering School, author of several books, and editor of the definitive, seven-volume Technology in World History.
Bell, Alexander Graham
AIAA designated Baddeck, Nova Scotia as a historic site, providing a plaque to commemorate the centennial of the first powered flight in Canada. On February 23, 1909, piloting the “Silver Dart,” J.A. Douglas McCurdy took off from the frozen surface of Bras d’Or Lake at Baddeck Bay, and flew for close to one kilometer before landing safely on ice. The plane had been created by Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association, formed in 1907 to build and fly experimental aircraft.
The first transmission of intelligible speech over electrical wires took place on 10 March 1876. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell called out to his assistant Thomas Watson, “Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you.” This transmission took place in their attic laboratory located in a near here at 5 Exeter Place. A pioneer in the field of telecommunications, Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to Ontario, and then to the United States, settling in Boston, before beginning his career as an inventor.
On 10 August 1876, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated on this site that the human voice could be transmitted electrically over distance. While family members spoke into a transmitter in Brantford, 13 km away, Bell was able to hear them at a receiver located in Paris. This test convinced Bell that his invention could be used for communication between towns and could compete successfully with the telegraph.