Born in Edinburgh, Alexander Graham Bell followed his father, uncle and grandfather by becoming a speech and language therapist, developing teaching methods for deaf people. In 1870 he emigrated to Canada and soon moved south to Boston to continue this work. Around the same time, Bell was also experimenting with sending voice signals by electricity. In 1876 he designed an ‘electrical speech machine’, through which his assistant, Thomas Watson, heard him transmit these distinct words: “Mr Watson, come here. I want you”. Bell was the first to patent such a device, which we now know as the telephone. At the time of his burial on 4 August 1922, all telephone traffic in the United States was stopped for one minute.