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Bain, Alexander Bain, Alexander (1811-1877)

Alexander Bain was a Scottish watchmaker who invented the chemical telegraph - forerunner of the fax machine.

Bain grew up in humble surroundings, but attending a science lecture at the age of 12 opened his mind to new ways of thinking and changed his life. He studied clock-making and moved to London.

His first patent was for an electric clock which used an electromagnetic pendulum instead of wires and springs. He went on to develop a revolutionary system to control a railway station electrically. Bain also developed a speedometer for ships, a temperature-controlled fire alarm and automatic musical instruments.

Five years of prolific inventing led to him create the chemical telegraph machine, which enabled Morse Code to be sent seven times more quickly and which found extensive use in the United States.

For a while Bain was successful, but encountered trouble with patent infringements from Samuel Morse and retired into a life of obscurity, poverty and hardship.

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