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Alexander Graham Bell: Electrical Transmission of Articulate Speech, 1912

Surgical Steel

On July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot in the back while ambling through the Washington railway station. The former Civil War General was then forty-nine years of age and in excellent physical shape, and did sustain the wound wrought by the bullet. Known for the experiments he conducted with metal detectors in England, Alexander Graham Bell was called to the President's bedside. The metal probe which he and a team of assistants worked frantically to perfect did not, however, prove successful in locating the bullet lodged in the President's back, and Garfield died weeks after the assault from infection. Distraught over the President's untimely death Bell worked tirelessly to create an efficient surgical probe, coming up with a successful model in October of 1881. He named his invention the telephonic probe, and the University or Heidelberg conferred an honorary doctorate of medicine on Bell for his contribution to surgery. The telephonic probe would later be attributed to Dr. John H. Girdner, who was present at Bell's initial demonstration of the probe and later published a paper taking full credit for the invention.