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Encyclopedia > Alexander Bain (inventor)
Alexander Bain
Born October 1811
Died January 2, 1877
Occupation instrument inventor, technician, and clockmaker

Alexander Bain (October 1811January 2, 1877), was a Scottish instrument inventor, technician, and clockmaker. He invented the electric clock, the electric printing telegraph, and the first fax machine. Bain installed the railway telegraph lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 1811 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... is the 2nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1877 (MDCCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... 1811 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... is the 2nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1877 (MDCCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... An electric clock is a clock that is powered by electrical current instead of powered by springs or weights. ...



Bain was born in Watten, Caithness, Scotland. Bain's father was a crofter. Bain had a twin sister, Margaret, and, in total, he had six sisters and six brothers. Bain did not excel in school. He was apprenticed in the art of clockmaking to a clockmaker in Wick and moved eventually to Edinburgh and then in 1837 to London (Clerkenwell). Bain frequented the lectures at the Polytechnic Institution and the Adelaide Gallery. Bain later constructed his own workshop for building instruments which was at Hanover Street. Loch Watten Watten (grid reference ND242544) is a small village in Caithness, in the Highland area of Scotland, on the main road (A882-A9) between the county town of Wick and the burgh of Thurso, about twelve kilometres (eight miles) west of Wick and close to Wick River and to... Caithness (Gallaibh in Gaelic)[1] is a committee area of Highland Council, Scotland; a lieutenancy area; and a registration county, Caithness was formerly a district within the Highland region from 1975 to 1996 and a local government county with its own county council from 1890 to 1975. ... This article is about the country. ... In Scotland a croft is a small parcel of agricultural land that is occupied and farmed by a crofter who pays rent to the landlord who owns the land. ... Wick is a coastal town on the main highway linking John O Groats with southern Britain, a royal burgh and the county town of Caithness, in the far north of Scotland. ... For other uses, see Edinburgh (disambiguation). ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Clerkenwell Green and St James church Clerkenwell is an area of central London in the London Borough of Islington. ...

His first patent was in October 1840 for the first electric clock, followed by a patent in January 1841 for one with a pendulum kept in motion by electromagnetic impulses. He went on to design a number of electric clocks and the Earth battery to supply them with a reasonably stable and constant current of low electromotive force (or voltage). He also developed the automatic telegraph, electrical timepieces, and insulation for electric cables, an electric fire alarm, inkstands, ink holders, and a form of ship's log. An electric clock is a clock that is powered by electrical current instead of powered by springs or weights. ... Simple gravity pendulum assumes no air resistance and no friction of/at the nail/screw. ... Electromagnetism is the physics of the electromagnetic field: a field, encompassing all of space, composed of the electric field and the magnetic field. ... An Earth battery is composed of a pair of electrodes made of two dissimilar metals, such as iron and copper, which are buried in the soil or immersed in the sea. ... Electromotive force (emf) is the amount of energy gained per unit charge that passes through a device in the opposite direction to the electric field existing across that device. ... International safety symbol Caution, risk of electric shock (ISO 3864), colloquially known as high voltage symbol. ... Telegraphy (from the Greek words tele = far away and grapho = write) is the long distance transmission of written messages without physical transport of letters, originally over wire. ... A Wheelock MT-24-LSM fire alarm horn and strobe. ... I think that there should be a picture of the inkstand that was used to sign the Declaration Of Independence. ... A ships log is a record of data relating to a ship or submarine, such as weather conditions, crew complement or what ports were docked at and when. ...

Bain's ideas on electrical horology were incorporated in five UK patents taken out during the period 1841 to 1852, and these also include much of his work on telegraphy. In 1842, he transmitted a first image over a wire and went on to patent the facsimile machine in May 1843. His fax machine relied also on the movement of a pendulum. Initially Bain made a considerable sum from his inventions but, due to poor investments, he was eventually supported only by his Civil List pension of £80 per year. Horology is the study of the science and art of timekeeping devices. ... A civil list is a list of individuals to whom money is paid by the government. ...

Death and legacy

Bain was buried in the Old Aisle Cemetery, Kirkintilloch. It was restored in 1959. The headstone had a fallacious date of death (1876) which was later corrected to 1877. A pub in Wick, close to where Alexander Bain served his apprenticeship, is now named after the inventor. Also, as a tribute to his inventions, the main BT building in Glasgow is named Alexander Bain House. , Kirkintilloch is a burgh in Scotland, approximately eight miles north-east of central Glasgow. ... “Tombstone” redirects here. ...

Further reading

Published works
  • Bain, A, "A Short History of the Electric Clocks". London: Chapman and Hall, 1852
  • Bain A, "Autobiography"London: Longmans, Green, 1904.
  • Finlaison, John, "An account of some remarkable applications of the electric fluid to the useful arts, by Mr. Alexander Bain; with a vindication of his claim to be the first inventor of the electro-magnetic printing telegraph, and also of the electro-magnetic clock". London, Chapman and Hall, 1843. LCCN 08003694
  • Hackmann, W. D., "Alexander Bain's Short History of the Electric Clock (1852)" London: Turner & Devereux 1973.
  • Burns, R. W., Engineering Science and Education Journal, Vol 2, No2, April 1993.
  • Aked, C. K., "Alexander Bain. The father of electric horology". Antiquarian Horology December, 1974.
  • Hope-Jones, F', "Electrical Timekeeping". London: NAG Press, 1940.
  • Kieve J, "The Electric Telegraph. A Social and Economic History". Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles, 1973.
  • "Guest editorial". Perception, 2001, volume 30, pages 777 - 783 DOI 10.1068/p3007ed (ed., cover the two Bains)

External articles

  • U.S. Patent 006,837 
  • Eugenii Fatz, "Alexander Bain". The history of electrochemistry, electricity and electronics; Biosensors & Bioelectronics.
  • "Alexander Bain : 1811 - 1877"". Adventures in Cybersound.
  • "Significant Scots: Alexander Bain". electricscotland.com.
  • "The 1800s: Bain - first commercial fax". DigiCam History Dot Com.
  • "Alexander Bain 1811-1877". visitdunkeld.com.
  • F. W. Chesson, "Secret Wires : Open Origins of Secret Wires (Telegraphic History)". Waterbury, CT.
  • "BAIN - Alexander". The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2006.
  • "Alexander Bain & the Fax Machine". sciencenet.org.uk, bss. Broken Link
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