History of the Telegraph and Telegraphy
Electric Telegraph Circuit Board
The Beginning of Electronic Communications
In 1825, British inventor William
Sturgeon (1783-1850) exhibited a device that laid the foundations for
large-scale electronic communications: the electromagnet. Sturgeon displayed
its power by lifting nine pounds with a seven-ounce piece of iron wrapped
with wires through which the current of a single cell battery was sent.
In 1830, an American, Joseph
Henry (1797-1878), demonstrated the potential of Sturgeon's device
for long distance communication by sending an electronic current over one
mile of wire to activate an electromagnet which caused a bell to strike.
Thus the electric telegraph was born. Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872), whose
sketches of a "magnetized magnet" in operation are shown
here, successfully exploited Henry's invention commercially.
While a professor of arts and design
at New York University in 1835, Samuel Morse proved that signals could
be transmitted by wire. He used pulses of current to deflect an electromagnet,
which moved a marker to produce written codes on a strip of paper - the
invention of Morse Code. The following year, the device was modified to
emboss the paper with dots and dashes. He gave a public demonstration in
1838, but it was not until five years later that Congress (reflecting public
apathy) funded $30,000 to construct an experimental telegraph line from
Washington to Baltimore, a distance of 40 miles.
Six years later, members of Congress
witnessed the sending and receiving of messages over part of the telegraph
line. Before the line had reached Baltimore, the Whig party held its national
convention there, and on May 1, 1844, nominated Henry Clay. This news was
hand-carried to Annapolis Junction (between Washington and Baltimore) where
Morse's partner, Alfred Vail, wired it to the Capitol. This was the first
news dispatched by electric telegraph.
The message, "What hath God wrought?"
sent later by "Morse Code" from the old Supreme Court chamber in the United
States Capitol to his partner in Baltimore, officially opened the completed
line of May 24, 1844. Morse allowed Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter
of a friend, to choose the words of the message, and she selected a verse
from Numbers XXIII, 23: "What hath God wrought?", which was recorded onto
paper tape. Morse's early system produced a paper copy with raised dots
and dashes, which were translated later by an operator.
Self Portrait by Samuel Morse
Samuel Morse and his associates obtained
private funds to extend their line to Philadelphia and New York. Small
telegraph companies, meanwhile began functioning in the East, South, and
Midwest. Dispatching trains by telegraph started in 1851, the same year
Western Union began business. Western Union built its first transcontinental
telegraph line in 1861, mainly along railroad rights-of-way.
In 1881, the Postal Telegraph System
entered the field for economic reasons, and merged with Western Union in
The original Morse telegraph printed
code on tape. However, in the United States the operation developed into
sending by key and receiving by ear. A trained Morse operator could transmit
40 to 50 words per minute. Automatic transmission, introduced in 1914,
handled more than twice that number.
In 1913 Western Union developed multiplexing,
which it made possible to transmit eight messages simultaneously over a
single wire (four in each direction). Teleprinter machines came into use
about 1925. Varioplex, introduced in 1936, enabled a single wire to carry
72 transmissions at the same time (36 in each direction). Two years later
Western Union introduced the first of its automatic facsimile devices.
In 1959 Western Union inaugurated TELEX, which enables subscribers to the
teleprinter service to dial each other directly.
Until 1877, all rapid long-distance
communication depended upon the telegraph. That year, a rival technology
developed that would again change the face of communication -- the telephone.
By 1879, patent litigation between Western Union and the infant telephone
system was ended in an agreement that largely separated the two services.
Samuel Morse is best known as the
inventor of the telegraph, but he is also esteemed for his contributions
to American portraiture. His painting is characterized by delicate technique
and vigorous honesty and insight into the character of his subjects.
Morse - Patent Drawings
Samuel Morse developed telegraph
wires and invented Morse code, an electronic alphabet patented in 1840
(1,647). The first telegraph was "What hath God wrought!" View the original
patent drawing for this device.
of Telegraphy and Samuel Morse
Telegraphy (in Greek: writing in
distance) is, as we know, a communication system able to transmit signals
which represent coded letters, numbers and signs of writing. From a book written
in 1921, a detailed history.
- Samuel Morse
Biography of Samuel Morse as inventor and artist.
Samuel Morse invented the Morse
Story of Samuel Morse
Origin and growth of the ideas which
later linked the world with submarine cables and wireless telegraphy.
First Morse telegraph message, 24 May 1844
Crooke and Wheatstone - Telegraphy
William F. Cooke and Charles
Wheatstone were two physicists who worked together in Great Britain.
The Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph was patented in 1837, using the principle
of electromagnetism. Samuel F.B. Morse,
an American inventor and painter developed another version of a telegraph
at around the same time, called the Morse Telegraph.
Creed Telegraph System
Canadian, Fredick Creed invented
a way to convert morse code to text in 1900 called the Creed Telegraph
According to the Stock Ticker Company
of Kalamazoo, MI, "In 1867, Mr. Edward A. Calahan of the American Telegraph
Company invented the first stock telegraph printing instrument. It was
his idea at the time that prices might be furnished through some form of
telegraphy. The distinct sound of this telegraph printing instrument eventually
earned it the name of stock
ticker." Thomas Edison's first successful
invention was an improved stock ticker called the "Universal Stock Printer".
The first telegraph was invented
by Claude Chappe - this system was visual and used semaphore - a flag alphabet.
The optical telegraph was replaced by the electric telegraph described
Several varieties are discussed.
Important disclaimer information about this About site.