Alexander Graham Bell

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A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with — a man is what he makes of himself.

Alexander Graham Bell (3 March 18472 August 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor and innovator most noted as the inventor of the telephone.

Sourced[edit]

Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you.
  • Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you.
    • First intelligible words spoken over the telephone (10 March 1876), as recorded in Bell's Journal entry (10 March 1876). These are often misquoted as "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." Watson later recounted that Bell had spilled battery acid and had called for him over the phone with these words, but this may have been in a separate incident.
  • The final result of our researches has widened the class of substances sensitive to light vibrations, until we can propound the fact of such sensitiveness being a general property of all matter.
    • Statement to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Boston, Massachusetts (27 August 1880): published as "On the Production and Reproduction of Sound by Light" in American Journal of Sciences, Third Series, vol. XX, n°118 (October 1880), pp. 305-324.
There cannot be mental atrophy in any person who continues to observe, to remember what he observes, and to seek answers for his unceasing hows and whys about things.
  • I had made up my mind to find that for which I was searching even if it required the remainder of my life. After innumerable failures I finally uncovered the principle for which I was searching, and I was astounded at its simplicity. I was still more astounded to discover the principle I had revealed not only beneficial in the construction of a mechanical hearing aid but it served as well as means of sending the sound of the voice over a wire. Another discovery which came out of my investigation was the fact that when a man gives his order to produce a definite result and stands by that order it seems to have the effect of giving him what might be termed a second sight which enables him to see right through ordinary problems. What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.
    • As quoted in Making a Habit of Success: How to Make a Habit of Succeeding, How to Win With High Self-Esteem (1999) by MacK R. Douglas, p. 45. Unsourced variant: What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists... and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want...and are fully determined not to quit until you get it.
  • Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
    • As quoted in Sophia's Fire (2005) by Sango Mbella, p. 133
  • Neither the Army nor the Navy is of any protection, or very little protection, against aerial raids.
    • As quoted in The Military Quotation Book by James Charlton, p. 37
  • The inventor...looks upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea. The spirit of invention possesses him, seeking materialization.

Bell Telephone Talk (1901)[edit]

Interview with Bell published in How They Succeeded (1901) by Orison Swett Marden, Ch. 2.
  • I begin my work at about nine or ten o'clock in the evening and continue until four or five in the morning. Night is a more quiet time to work. It aids thought.
  • Perseverance must have some practical end, or it does not avail the man possessing it. A person without a practical end in view becomes a crank or an idiot. Such persons fill our asylums.
  • I am a believer in unconscious cerebration. The brain is working all the time, though we do not know it. At night it follows up what we think in the daytime. When I have worked a long time on one thing, I make it a point to bring all the facts regarding it together before I retire; I have often been surprised at the results... We are thinking all the time; it is impossible not to think.
  • You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the result of slow growth. Ideas do not reach perfection in a day, no matter how much study is put upon them.
  • Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
  • Man is the result of slow growth; that is why he occupies the position he does in animal life. What does a pup amount to that has gained its growth in a few days or weeks, beside a man who only attains it in as many years.
  • The most successful men in the end are those whose success is the result of steady accretion. That intellectuality is more vigorous that has attained its strength gradually. It is the man who carefully advances step by step, with his mind becoming wider and wider — and progressively better able to grasp any theme or situation — persevering in what he knows to be practical, and concentrating his thought upon it, who is bound to succeed in the greatest degree.
  • If a man is not bound down, he is sure to succeed.
  • A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with — a man is what he makes of himself.


Disputed[edit]

This quotation has numerous sourced variants, and as yet no original sourcing. This might be because Bell stated it in slightly different ways on a number of occasions, or because published versions are derived from second hand accounts that have been recalled differently.
  • Don't keep forever on the public road. Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before, and something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
    • As quoted in "The Chemistry of Life" by Ralph Whiteside Kerr in Rosicrucian Digest (1947), p. 131
  • Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before, and something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
    • Quoted in Design of Devices and Systems (1998) by William H. Middendorf, p. 177
  • Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before. Of course it will be a little thing, but do not ignore it. Follow it up, explore around it; one discovery will lead to another, and before you know it you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
    • Advanced Device Modeling and Simulation (2003) by Tibor Grasser, p. 719
  • Don't keep forever on the public road. Leave the beaten path occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before, and something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
    • Worth Repeating: More Than 5000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (2003) by Bob Kelly, p. 87
  • Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to see something you have never seen before. Of course it will be a little thing, but do not ignore it. Follow it up, explore around it, and before you know it,something worth thinking about to occupy your mind.
    • A Treasury of Inspirational Thoughts (2004) by S.P. Sharma, p. 41
  • Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will find something you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore around it, and before you know it, you will have something to think about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought.
    • Engraving at Bell Labs as quoted in Comprehending and Decoding the Cosmos: Discovering Solutions to Over a Dozen Cosmic Mysteries by Jerome Drexler (2006). p. viii

External links[edit]

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