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The Telegraph

The Telegraph

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Morse Code. Samuel F. B. Morse demonstrated a simple but stunning invention in 1837. It was a machine that could send a clicking signal across a wire. Using his code that related clicking patterns to letters of the alphabet, Morse could transmit messages wherever he could string his telegraph cable. The new technology was promising enough to encourage Congress to foot the bill for a test line between Baltimore and Washington in 1843, and within a year the experiment had proved successful. The challenge was to cover the country with telegraph cable.

Messages in Minutes. Before the telegraph, the only way people could communicate with others in distant places was to send them letters or to travel to meet them. The telegraph allowed a person to transmit a message over hundreds and, eventually, thousands of miles in the space of perhaps an hour. By the 1850s there were telegraph stations in major eastern and midwestern cities. Operators there sent and received messages, decoded them, and passed them to runners who hand-delivered the telegrams. The cost varied depending on the location of the station, but it was normally calculated at twenty-five cents per hundred miles for ten words or less in the early 1850s.

Connects with Cable. The problem with the telegraph was that communication was limited to stations linked by a cable. The investment cost was huge, and stringing the cable took time. It cost between $100 and $200 a mile to construct the lines, and workers had to overcome the difficulties posed by rough terrain. Nonetheless, in October 1861 the first transcontinental telegraph cable was completed, and in 1866 a cable was successfully

laid across the floor of the Atlantic, linking North America and England. By 1866 more than one hundred thousand miles of telegraph cable linked cities and towns all over the United States, and the telegraph industry employed thousands of workers.

Telegraphic Journalism. Among the most significant effects of the telegraph was its importance to newspapers. Timely national news coverage was made possible as newspaper editors from various regions of the country were able to share stories promptly. Before the telegraph, editors mailed their papers to one another and allowed stories to be reprinted liberally. The postal service was slow. The telegraph was quick, but it was also costly and the charge was by the word. Newspapers paid discounted rates, but they had so much to communicate that charges were still steep. So newsmen invented a form of abbreviated communication called telegraphic reporting to keep the words to a minimum. Sometimes they ran words together to trick the system; other times they left out nonessential words. Newspaper rewriters at the receiving end deciphered the reports and restored them to journalistic prose.

S. O. S. Western Union emerged after the war as the dominant company in the field. A merger in 1866 with the United States Telegraph Company and the American Telegraph Company gave Western Union a monopoly. The merger created a company with more than $40 million in capital. But the industry was soon threatened by a new advance in technology. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patented the first practical telephone, and within a decade telephone lines had been constructed, allowing people in large cities instant, direct access to one another.

Source

Robert Luther Thompson, Wiring a Continent: The History of the Telegraph Industry in the United States, 18321866 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947).

PONY EXPRESS AND OVERLAND MAIL

In the 1850s mail delivery to the West was problematic. The most efficient route was the ocean route from New York down the Eastern seaboard, into the Caribbean Sea to Panama, overland to the Pacific, and up the Western seaboard to San Francisco. U.S. postmaster Aaron Brown, who took office in 1857, decided there had to be a better way. He stipulated two overland routes from east to west (later replaced by a single route) and awarded a contract to the private Overland Mail Company to deliver mail by stagecoach. The trip from Saint Louis to San Francisco took twenty-five days; the coaches carried between five hundred and six hundred pounds of mail plus as many as four passengers, and horses had to be changed every ten or fifteen miles. Overland Mail operated successfully until the Civil War.

In 1860 a private carrier who also traveled the same route as the Overland Mail Company decided to introduce an express service. Early in 1860 entrepreneur William H. Russell advertised for young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Ninety riders answered the ad and agreed to Russells requirement that they swear not to cuss, fight, or mistreat their horses. Russell provided them with a team of five hundred well-bred mounts and challenged his riders to complete a 1,966-mile route in ten and one-half days. Riders carrying an average of about 350 letters raced between about 120 relay stations normally set at ten-or-fifteen mile intervals, where they got fresh horses. They were allowed two minutes in station to change horses and pick up whatever sustenance they required. Each rider covered seventy-five to one hundred miles a day before he was relieved. The service was called the Pony Express. It operated for nineteen months, charging five dollars a half ounce at first and later two dollars to deliver mail in half the time of conventional postal service.

The Pony Express was legendary, and its riders were heroes. Among the most colorful riders was Cowboy Bob Haslam, who was chosen to ride the most dangerous stretch of the trail on the day President Lincolns first inaugural speech was being carried to Sacramento, where, it was hoped, the presidents words would help influence the debate raging in the California state legislature about whether to secede from the Union. Haslam was attacked by a Paiute Indian attack party riding horses they had stolen from other Pony Express riders. He emptied his pistol at them while racing toward his destination. They shot arrows at him, wounding him in the arm. When he arrived at the next relay station, he refused to give up to a substitute rider and continued on, completing his 120-mile portion of the route in eight hours and ten minutes.

The completion of the transcontinental telegraph cable in 1861 meant the end of the Pony Express. It had been a costly venture. William Russell estimated that he had lost a half a million dollars, but he provided a wealth of stories about his fearless, colorful riders.

Source: Peter T. Rohrbach and Lowell S. Newman, American Issue: The U.S. Postage Stamp, 18421869 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984).

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Telegraph

Telegraph

A telegraph is any system that transmits encoded information by signal across a distance. Although the word telegraph is usually associated with sending messages by means of an electric current, it was used originally to describe a visual system for sending coded messages.

Until the telephone became a workable system, the telegraph was the standard means of communication between and within metropolitan areas in both Europe and the United States. Telephones did not make the telegraph obsolete but rather complemented its use for many decades.

Today, telegrams and telexes still use telegraphy (the sending of messages by telegraph) but are rapidly being replaced by facsimile (fax) transmissions through telephone lines. Satellite transmission and high-frequency radio bands are used for international telegraphy.

History

The earliest forms of sending messages over distances were probably both visual and auditory. Smoke signals by day and beacon fires by night were used by the ancient people of China, Egypt, and Greece. Drum-beats extended the range of the human voice and are known to have been used to send messages, as have reed pipes and the ram's horn.

Words to Know

Battery: A device for converting chemical energy into electrical energy.

Code: A system in which some group of symbols is used to represent words.

Electromagnet: A temporary magnet whose effect is caused by an electric current.

Semaphore: A signaling device that uses moving arms, human or mechanical, whose position indicates letters or numbers.

In 1791, French engineer Claude Chappe (17631805) and his brother Ignace (17601829) invented the semaphore. The semaphore is an optical telegraph system that can be used to relay messages from hilltop to hilltop. The Chappes built a series of two-arm towers between cities. Each tower was equipped with telescopes pointing in either direction and a cross at its top with extended arms that could assume seven easily seen angular positions. Together, they could signal all the letters of the French alphabet as well as some numbers. Their system was successful and soon was duplicated elsewhere in Europe. It was Claude Chappe who coined the word telegraph. He combined the Greek words tele meaning "distant" and graphien meaning "to write," to define it as "writing at a distance." The shortcomings of Chappe's system, however, were its dependence on good weather and its need for a large operating staff. Advances in electricity soon put this system out of business.

It was the invention of the batterya source of electricity for a telegraphby Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (17451827) in 1800 that made Chappe's system obsolete. The telegraph provided a means for sending messages across wires at the speed of light. Several researchers in different countries attempted to exploit the communications aspects of this discovery. The first successful device, however, was invented by two Englishmen, William Fothergill Cooke (18061879) and Charles Wheatstone (18021875). Cooke and Wheatstone designed a telegraph system in 1837 that used five needles to point to letters of the alphabet and numbers that were arranged on a panel. Their electric telegraph was immediately put to use on the British railway system.

The modern telegraph

Although Cooke and Wheatstone built the first successful telegraph, it was an American artist and inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse (17911872), who devised a telegraphic method that eventually was adopted worldwide. Morse made use of ideas and suggestions provided by other scientists and inventors, including those of American physicist Joseph Henry (17971878) and a young mechanic named Alfred Vail (18071859). His first public demonstration was made at Vail's shop in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1837.

The commercial success of Morse's invention was assured in 1843 when the U.S. government appropriated funds to build a pole line from Baltimore, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. On May 24,1844, Morse sent the first telegraphic message along that system: "What hath God wrought?" The system became popular very quickly at least partly because skilled operators discovered that they could "read" a message by simply listening to the sound of the telegraph's clicking.

Operation of the telegraph

Morse's telegraph consists essentially of a source of electricity (such as a battery), an electromagnet, and an electric switch known as the key. To send a message, the operator presses down on the key. As the key comes into contact with a metal plate beneath it, an electric circuit is completed. Electricity flows out of the telegraph, into external electrical wires, to waiting receivers in other parts of the world.

At the receiver's end of the system, current flows from external wires into the receiving telegraph system. The electrical current flows through the electromagnet, creating a magnetic field. The magnetic field causes the receiver's key to be attracted to the plate beneath it. As the key comes into contact with the plate, it makes a click sound. The message received consists, therefore, of a series of clicks.

The same clicks are produced when the sender transmits the message. Each time the key is pushed down onto the plate beneath it, it makes the same click. The sender can vary the sound of the click by holding the key down for a shorter or a longer period of time. The same kind of short and long clicks are then picked up at the receiver's end.

The Morse code. In order to use the system just described, Morse needed to have some kind of code in which short clicks (dots) and long clicks (dashes) could be used to represent letters and numbers. The code he developed is one of the most famous in the world. It consists of various combinations of dots and dashes representing letters, numbers, and symbols. For example, the combination - · represents the letter a; the combination - ··· represents the letter b; and the combination - - - - - represents the number zero.

Historical importance

The invention of the telegraph could in some ways be seen as the real beginning of our modern age. For the first time, it was possible for messages to be transmitted throughout the world. Almost coincidental with the telegraph's birth was the emergence of a new kind of journalism that depended on providing up-to-the-minute information. Reporting events as they occurred began to take precedence over a newspaper's traditional editorial role. In addition, corporations became larger and more far-flung, and nations became necessarily more interdependent. With the telegraph, informationin all its aspects and formsbegan to assume the critical role it plays today.

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The Telegraph

The Telegraph

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Hoopla. When the telegraph came into widespread use in the mid nineteenth century, predictions about its effects on society were mixed. Editor James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald wrote that the paper that published news it received by telegraph was such a specimen of journalism as has never before been equaled, from the creation of the world up to this morning, in the history of mankind. It ... is enough to ... bring us actually to believe that either the end of the world or the beginning of the millennium is at hand. In contrast, his contemporary Henry David Thoreau, contemplating the profusion, of insignificant news made possible by the miraculous technology, wrote: We are in great haste to constructa magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas, but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing to communicate.... We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New, but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough. The question of whether the telegraph would be an actual improvement or a diversion from more consequential matters was quickly forgotten as the technology spread along burgeoning railroad lines. Small-town papers were revolutionized, and formed press associations to share the costs of the dispatches.

THE DAILY GRAPHIC

In 1872 David Croly of New York launched the first pictorial daily newspaper. The Daily Graphic ran eight pages, three and one-half of which were covered with illustrations. The rest consisted of short news items. Since the halftone process that allowed mechanical reproduction of photographs had not yet been invented, Daily Graphic illustrators had to make engraved copies of photographs. On 4 March 1880 the art editor of the Daily Graphic, Stephen H. Horgan, made history by printing the first legible halftone. Shantytown was a picture of the impoverished upper Fifth Avenue. The newspaper also printed explicit pictures of crime scenes, including the murderer William Foster on the gallows. Samuel Langhorne Clemens thought that the Daily Graphic was a marvelous paper and wrote in appreciation: I dont care much about reading (unless it be some tranquilizing tract or other), but I do like to look at pictures, and the illustrated weeklies do not come to me as often as I need them.

Nevertheless the paper had a brief life span of only sixteen years. Its circulation never exceeded ten thousand. In 1884 the New York World began printing illustration, and for five years the Daily Graphic fought a losing battle against the competition. Financial mismanagement and poor investments also hastened the demise of the paper. However, it left a lasting impact on journalism by proving the value of pictures to news coverage.

Source: Sidney Kobre, The Yellow Press and Gilded Age Journalism (Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1964).

Thoroughly Modern Business. In 1866 the three largest telegraph companies in the country merged to form Western Union. It was the first modern nationwide business enterprise in the United States, and it enjoyed a powerful advantage over potential competitors. Railroad magnate and financier Jay Gould mounted the only real challenge to Western Union. In the late 1870s he began to organize the telegraph subsidiaries of railroad companies under his control. After acquiring the Union Pacific Railroad, Gould canceled its contract with Western Union and began to use the services of the Atlantic and Pacific telegraph Company. In 1879 he created the American Union Telegraph Company, which soon monopolized

telegraph service in the southwestern United States. After Western Union stock plunged in 1881, Gould became its largest stockholder.

Press Associations. As early as 1848 a group of seven New York daily newspapers formed the Associated Press (AP) to take advantage of the new telegraphic technology and to cooperate in news gathering. In 1875 the wire between New York and Washington transmitted more than twenty thousand words a day. Between 1880 and 1900 the miles of telegraph lines covering the United States quadrupled, and AP wire service extended to Chicago, New Orleans, Minneapolis, and Denver. Other cities received news reports through express messengers or regular mail delivery. During this time the AP moved to consolidate its control over which newspapers benefited from their wire service. In conjunction with West-em Union it provided member papers with special treatment and rates. The AP also prohibited its members from using any other news service. By 1880 only 50 percent of the morning dailies and 25 percent of the evening papers had access to AP service. The only serious competitor was the United Press (not. the twentieth-century wire service of the same name), founded in 1882. It went bankrupt in 1897 and merged with the AP.

Objectivity. The wire service soon became the primary source of national news. Its dispatches were collected from hundreds of contributors around the country, who were independent from political parties and local institutions. Reporters for the services were told to send bare matters of fact because the AP client papers represented the entire spectrum of political allegiance and interest. News was a salable commodity like any ocher. Wire service coverage thus produced impersonal, national, standardized news. For this reason historians have called it the originator of the journalistic notion of objectivity, as well as a powerful force for the creation of a national American consciousness that replaced earlier, regional indenties.

Sources

Menahem Blondheim, News Over the Wires: The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America, 1844-1897 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994);

Alfred D. Chandler Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977);

Mitchell Stephens, A History of News: From the Drum to the Satellite (New York: Viking, 1988).

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The Telegraph

The Telegraph

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Invention. Samuel F.B. Morse was not the only contender for the title of inventor of the telegraph. By the late 1830s many other inventors had come up with similar devices, but it was Morse who managed to outlast the other sixty-two claimants. One reason the telegraph attracted so many inventors was that the technology of sending communications through a wire was not particularly complex. An operator tapped out a message by opening and closing an electric circuit in a coded pattern while at the receiving end the current flowed through an electromagnet which moved a long arm (much like a doorbell works), typing out the message as a series of dots and spaces on a strip of paper. Morse, however, was the first to prove the idea practicable, with the use of his flexible Morse code of dots and dashes to represent letters. In 1840 Morse managed to patent his telegraph, but investors balked at the invention, and it took three more years of mechanical tinkering and political lobbying before Morse could convince Congress to fund an experimental line from Washington to Baltimore, at a cost of $30, 000.

The Great Highway of Thought. Finished on schedule, Morse officially opened the first intercity electromagnetic telegraph in the world on 24 May 1844 by sending from Washington to Baltimore the massage What Hath God Wrought. Five days later came the most publicized use of the early telegraph. Morses agent in Baltimore had been covering the Democratic Partys convention in that city, and on 29 May he transmitted to Morse at the capital the surprising news that James K. Polk, the nations first dark horse candidate, had just been nominated for president. Democrats still in Washington sent back their congratulations to Polk, which were promptly read aloud on the convention floor. For the politicians crowding around Morse in the capital, and the newspapermen at the Baltimore end of the line, this event showed the revolutionary potential of the telegraph. For the first time in human history, in the words of historian Menahem Blondheim, persons at great distances from each other could interact in virtually real time, using a communications medium that was not dependent on the speed of a messenger. As one wondering commentator put it, time and space had been overcome.

Business Applications. Morse proved the telegraph would work, but at first no one seemed to know what to do with the new gadget. The government only used the line from Washington to Baltimore three times in first year. Traffic was so slow that a few people proposed using the line for a long-distance chess game. The only high-volume users were the newspapers and commercial shippers of Baltimore and Washington. Such light use convinced Congress that a federally owned system could never pay for itself, and they refused to fund the telegraphs development. Consequently, Morse and his partners transferred their rights to private development corporations. By the mid 1850s six regional companies had constructed twenty-three thousand miles of telegraph lines. Once lines extended between major commercial and news centers, the traffic became enormous. The telegraph virtually created the agricultural commodities markets, making possible not only the rapid transmission of crop prices around the nation but also better integration of supply and demand. Railroads used the lines to ensure the safety of their trains and to serve their freight customers better by tracking shipments.

Newspapers. Telegraphs eventually became indispensable to the transportation industry, but the heaviest initial users were the highly competitive daily newspapers, who lived and died by the scoop. At first some newspapers tried to monopolize the new medium by buying up all the time on a telegraph line between major cities such as New York and Washington. If no breaking news arrived at either end of the line, agents of the papers would simply transmit sections of the Bible to keep the line open. On slow days operators might get all the way from Genesis to Deuteronomy. Telegraph companies quickly changed the first-come-first-served policy that made these practices possible, opting instead for a fifteen-minute maximum-use rule. Unable to monopolize the lines, newspapers cooperated to form the Associated Press in 1848, an organization in which the big dailies formed press pools to share nonlocal news coming in over the wires. Another effect of the fifteen-minute rule was to make time available for individuals, resulting in an exponential increase in private transmissions between distant friends and relatives, one of Morses original goals for the telegraph.

Sources

Menahem Blondheim, News over the Wires: The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America , 18441897 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994);

Carleton Mabee, The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F.B. Morse (New York: Knopf, 1944);

Robert L. Thompson, Wiring a Continent: The History of the Telegraph Industry in the United States, 18321866 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1947).

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Telegraph

TELEGRAPH

TELEGRAPH. The word "telegraph" originally referred to any device that facilitated long-distance communication. Although various means of "telegraphing" began thousands of years ago, it was not until the early nineteenth century that the concept of using electrical devices took root. By that time, Alessandro Volta had developed the battery, Hans Christian Oersted had discovered the relationship between electrical current and magnetism, and Joseph Henry had discovered the electromagnet. Combining these new technologies into a reliable communication system was to be the work of Massachusetts-born artist Samuel F. B. Morse.

Morse worked with partners Alfred Vail and Leonard Gale to design his electromechanical device, which Morse described as the "Recording Telegraph." In 1837, Morse's newly patented telegraph featured a dot-and-dash code to represent numbers, a dictionary to turn the numbers into words, and a set of sawtooth type for sending signals. Morse demonstrated his telegraph at a New York exhibition a year later with a model that used a dot-dash code directly for letters instead of the number-word dictionary. "Morse code" was to become standard throughout the world. The dots or dashes, created from an interruption in the flow of electricity, were recorded on a printer or interpreted orally.


In 1844, Congress funded $30,000 for the construction of an experimental telegraph line that was to run the forty miles between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. From the Capitol in Washington, Morse sent the first formal message on the line to Baltimore, "What hath God wrought?"

Rapid advances in telegraph use followed. Small telegraph companies began operations throughout the United States, including American Telegraph Company, Western Union Telegraph Company, New York Albany and Buffalo Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company, Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Company, Illinois and Mississippi Telegraph Company, and New Orleans and Ohio Telegraph Company. In 1861, Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line. The first permanently successful telegraphic cable crossing the Atlantic Ocean was laid five years later. The invention of "duplex" telegraphy by J. B. Stearns and "quadruplex" telegraphy by Thomas A. Edison in the 1870s enhanced the performance of the telegraph by allowing simultaneous messages to be sent over the same wire.

All rapid long-distance communication within private and public sectors depended on the telegraph throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. Applications were many: Railroads used the Morse telegraph to aid in the efficiency and safety of railroad operations, the Associated Press to dispatch news, industry for the transmission of information about stocks and commodities, and the general public to send messages. The telegraph's military value was demonstrated during the Civil War (1861–1865) as a way to control troop deployment and intelligence. However, the rival technologies of the telephone and radio would soon replace the telegraph as a primary source of communication.

Until the mid-1970s, Canada used Morse telegraphy, and Mexico continued with the system for its railroads up to 1990. However, the telegraph is no longer widely used, save by a small group of enthusiasts. Although radio-telegraphy (wireless transmission using radio waves) is still used commercially, it is limited in the United States to just a few shore stations that communicate with seafaring ships. Telephones, facsimile machines, and computer electronic mail have usurped the Morse model of long-distance communication.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bates, David Homer, and James A. Rawley. Lincoln in the Telegraph Office: Recollections of the United States Military Telegraph Corps During the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

Blondheim, Menahem. News Over the Wires: The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America, 1844–1897. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Gabler, Edwin. The American Telegrapher: A Social History, 1860– 1900. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988.

Jolley, E. H. Introduction to Telephony and Telegraphy. London: Pitman, 1968.

KymO'Connell-Todd

See alsoTelecommunications ; Western Union Telegraph Company .

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telegraph

telegraph, term originally applied to any device or system for distant communication by means of visible or audible signals, now commonly restricted to electrically operated devices. Attempts at long-distance communication date back thousands of years (see signaling). As electricity came into greater use, various practical and experimental methods of signaling were tried. A method that came into general use throughout most of the world was based in large part on the work of Samuel F. B. Morse. In Morse telegraphy, an electric circuit is set up, customarily by using only a single overhead wire and employing the earth as the other conductor to complete the circuit. An electromagnet in the receiver is activated by alternately making and breaking the circuit. Reception by sound, with the Morse code signals received as audible clicks, is a swift and reliable method of signaling. The first permanently successful telegraphic cable crossing the Atlantic Ocean was laid in 1866. In 1872, J. B. Stearns of Massachusetts devised a method for "duplex" telegraphy, enabling two messages to be sent over the same wire at the same time. In 1874, Thomas A. Edison invented the "quadruplex" method for the simultaneous transmission of four messages over the same wire. In addition to wires and cables, telegraph messages are now sent by such means as radio waves, microwaves, and communications satellites (see satellite, artificial). Telex is a telegraphy system that transmits and receives messages in printed form. Today telegraphy is rarely used, having been supplanted by the telephone, facsimile machines, and computer electronic mail, among others. Western Union, the American telegraph company whose origins date to 1851, stopped transmitting telegrams in 2006.

See J. W. Freebody, Telegraphy (1959); E. H. Jolley, Introduction to Telephony and Telegraphy (1970).

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telegraph

tel·e·graph / ˈteləˌgraf/ • n. a system for transmitting messages from a distance along a wire, esp. one creating signals by making and breaking an electrical connection: news came from the outside world by telegraph. ∎  a device for transmitting messages in such a way. ∎  hist. a system for the rapid transmission of messages by relayed visual signals: the London-Portsmouth telegraph line. • v. [tr.] send (someone) a message by telegraph: I must go and telegraph Mom. ∎  send (a message) by telegraph: she would rush off to telegraph news to her magazine. ∎  convey (an intentional or unconscious message), esp. with facial expression or body language: a tiny movement of her arm telegraphed her intention to strike. DERIVATIVES: te·leg·ra·pher / təˈlegrəfər/ n.

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telegraph

telegraph Any communications system that transmits and receives visible or audible coded signals over a distance.

The first, optical, telegraphs were forms of semaphore. Credit for the electric telegraph and its code is generally given to Samuel Morse, who inaugurated (1844) the first public line – between Washington and Baltimore. In 1866, the first permanently successful telegraph cable was laid across the Atlantic. In 1875, Thomas Edison invented a method of transmitting several messages simultaneously over the same wire.

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Telegraph

TELEGRAPH


The telegraph was the first communicational instrument that could send messages through wires via electricity. Though the invention was the result of several decades of research by many people, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse (17911872) is credited with making the first practical telegraph in 1837. Morse was a portrait painter in New York City when he became interested in magnetic telegraphy in around 1832. With technical assistance from chemistry professor Leonard Gale (18001883) and the financial support of Alfred Vail (18071859), Morse conducted further experiments and finally developed a battery-powered instrument that provided the necessary steady source of electricity. He also developed Morse code, a system of variously arranged dots and dashes for transmitting messages. (For example, the most frequently used letter of the alphabet is e, which is rendered in Morse code by using one dot; the less frequently used z is rendered by two dashes followed by two dots.) By 1837 Morse had demonstrated the telegraph to the public in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. He received a patent for his invention in the United States in 1840. In 1843 his telegraph was further promoted when the U.S. Congress approved construction of an experimental line between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. The following year, on May 24, 1844, Morse sent his first message across that line: "What hath God wrought!" Alfred Vail was on the receiving end of the wire.

By 1861 most major U.S. cities were linked by telegraph wires. The first successful trans-Atlantic cables were laid in 1866. Morse Code transmissions called telegrams when transmitted via above-ground wires and cablegrams (or cables) when transmitted via underwater cableswere translated by operators or mechanical printers on both the sending and receiving ends of the message. The introduction of the telegraph marked the beginning of modern communications. When the first transcontinental telegraph line in the United States was completed on October 24, 1861, it eliminated overnight the need for the Pony Express, which had briefly enjoyed the status of the fastest way to transmit a messageabout eight days from St. Louis, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, a distance that could be bridged by telegraph lines within minutes. The telegraph became the chief means of long distance communication. The telephone (invented 1875), which allows voice transmission over electrical wires, gradually replaced the telegraph. But for many decades the two technologies were in use together.

See also: Samuel Finley Breese Morse, Pony Express, Transatlantic Cable

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telegraph

telegraphbarf, behalf, calf, chaff, coif, giraffe, Graf, graph, half, laugh, scarf, scrum half, staff, strafe, wing half •headscarf • mooncalf • bar graph •telegraph • polygraph • epigraph •serigraph • cardiograph • radiograph •spectrograph • micrograph •lithograph • heliograph •choreograph • tachograph •stylograph • holograph • seismograph •chronograph, monograph •phonograph • paragraph •cinematograph • pictograph •autograph • photograph • flagstaff •jackstaff • distaff • tipstaff • epitaph •pikestaff • cenotaph

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Telegraph

Telegraph

History

Resources

A telegraph (also called a teletypewriter, teletype, or TTY [for teletype/teletypewriter]) is any system that transmits encoded information by signal across a distance with the use of an electro-mechanical typewriter. Although it is associated with sending messages via an electric current, the word telegraph was coined to describe an optical system of sending coded messages. From its invention until the telephone became a viable system, the telegraph was the standard means of communicating both between and within metropolitan areas in both Europe and the United States. Telephones did not make the telegraph obsolete but rather complemented it for many decades. Telegrams and telexes used telegraphy but are rapidly being replaced by facsimile (fax) transmissions through telephone lines. Satellite transmission and high-frequency radio bands are used for international telegraphy.

History

the earliest forms of sending messages over distances were probably both visual and acoustic. The ancient peoples of China, Egypt, and Greece used smoke signals by day and beacon fires by night. Drumbeats extended the range of the human voice and are known to have sent messages as have reed pipes and the rams horn. Greek poet Aeschylus (c. 525c. 455 BC) described nine beacon fires used on natural hills that could communicate over 500 mi (805 km), and Greek historian Polybius (c. 200c. 118 BC), recounted a visual code that was used to signal the 24-letter Greek alphabet. It is also known that Native Americans used signal fires before colonial times and later. Visual systems had a greater range than ones that depended on being heard, and they were greatly stimulated by the seventeenth century invention of the telescope.

In 1791, French engineer Claude Chappe (1763 1805) and his brother Ignace (17601829) invented the semaphore, an optical telegraph system that relayed messages from hilltop to hilltop using telescopes. The Chappes built a series of two-arm towers between cities. Each tower was equipped with telescopes pointing in either direction, and a cross at its top whose extended arms could each assume seven easily-seen angular positions. Together, they could signal all the letters of the French alphabet as well as some numbers. Their system was successful and soon was duplicated elsewhere in Europe. It was Chappe who coined the word telegraph. He combined the Greek words tele meaning distance and graphien meaning to write, to define it as writing at a distance. Its shortcomings, however, were its dependence on good weather and its need for a large operating staff. Advances in electricity would soon put this system out of business.

It was the invention of the battery and the resultant availability of electric charges moving at 186,000 mi (299,460 km) per second (the speed of light) that accomplished this. Prior to this invention by Italian physicist Alessandro Giuseppe A. A. Volta (17451827) in 1800, attempts to use electricity to communicate had failed because a dependable source of electricity was not available and the long, iron wires needed did not conduct electricity well and could not be properly insulated. Voltas new battery meant that experimenters had for the first time a reliable current of sufficient strength to transmit signals.

The next major development was in 1819 when Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted (17771851) demonstrated that he could use an electric current to deflect a magnetic needle. Further, he showed that the direction of the movement depended on the direction of the flow of the current. This pointed the way to the true telegraph. While several researchers in different countries were attempting to exploit the communications aspects of this discovery, two Englishmen, William Fothergill Cooke (18061879) and Charles Wheatstone (18021875), formed a partnership and designed a five-needle telegraph system in 1837. Their system used needles to point to letters of the alphabet and numbers that were arranged on a panel. Their electric telegraph was immediately put to use on the British railway system. This system was used primarily for railroad signaling until 1845 when an event raised the publics awareness of the potential of the telegraph. On New Years Day, 1845, the telegraph was used to catch a murderer who had been seen boarding a train bound for London. The information was telegraphed ahead and the murderer was arrested, tried, and hanged.

Although Cooke and Wheatstone built the first successful telegraph based on electricity, it was American artist and inventor Samuel Finley Breese Morse (17911872), who would devise a telegraph method that would eventually become universally adopted. Morse had begun investigating telegraphy at about the same time as his English rivals, but he had no scientific background and was getting nowhere until he was informed about the 1825 invention of the electromagnet that had been made by English physicist William Sturgeon (17831850). Fortunately for Morse, he took his inquiries to American physicist Joseph Henry (17971878), who had built in 1831 an extremely powerful electromagnet (it could lift 750 lb [341 kg] compared to Sturgeons 9 lb [4.1 kg]). More importantly, Henry had successfully experimented with using the electromagnet to transmit signals and clearly understood what would become the fundamental principle of the telegraphthe opening and closing of an electric circuit supplied by a battery. Henry gladly enlightened Morse on the mysteries of electromagnetism, and the determined Morse took it from there. He enlisted the aid of young mechanic Alfred Vail and together they improved on the work Morse had already started. These early attempts using an electromagnet resulted in a pen touching a moving piece of paper to record a series of dots and dashes. This system presumes a coded message, and Morse had created his own system that, when he collaborated with Vail, resulted in the now-famous Morse code. Vail contributed significantly to the code, having visited a printer to determine which letters were most and least used. Their code was then based on the most common letters having the simplest, shortest of symbols (dots and dashes). By 1837, they had put together a system that used a single, simple operator key, which, when depressed, completed an electric circuit and sent a signal to a distant receiver over a wire. Their first public demonstration was made at Vails shop in Morristown, New Jersey, and in 1843, the United States federal government appropriated funds to build a pole line spanning the 37 mi (59.5 km) between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., On May 24, 1844, the historic message, What hath God wrought? was sent and received. Once the system became practiced, it was found that skilled operators could read a message without looking at the dots and dashes on the paper by simply listening to the sound of the electromagnets clicking. This led to the elimination of the paper and an even simpler electric telegraph system that used only a key, battery, pole line, and a new sounder to make the dot or dash clicking sound clear. Using such simple equipment and a single, insulated copper wire, Morses telegraph system spread quickly across the U.S. and eventually replaced the older, English versions in Europe.

As the telegraph system grew and spread across the world, improvements followed quickly. One of the first was Morses development of a relay system to cover longer distances. His relay used a series of electromagnet receivers working on low current, each of which opened and shut the switch of a successive electric circuit supplied by its own battery. Telegraph use increased with the invention in Germany of the duplex circuit, allowing messages to travel simultaneously in opposite directions on the same line. In 1874, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (18471931) designed a double duplex called a quadruplex. This higher-capacity system needed eight operators who handled four messages at one time, two in each direction. A high-speed automatic Morse system also had been invented by Wheatstone in 1858, whose punched-paper tape idea offered a means by which a message could be stored and sent by a high speed transmitter that could read the holes in the tape. This system could transmit up to 600 words per minute. The most revolutionary and innovative improvement however was a time-division, multiplex-printing telegraph system devised in 1872 by French engineer Jean Maurice Emile Baudot (1845-1903). His system was based on his new code that replaced the Morse code. It employed a five-unit code whose every character contained five symbol elements. The heart of his system was a distributor consisting of a stationary faceplate of concentric copper rings that were swept by brushes mounted on a rotating assembly. This logical system greatly increased the traffic capacity of each line and was so far ahead of its time that it contained many elements from which modern systems have evolved.

By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the world was connected by telegraph lines, including several cables that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The first underwater conductor was laid by Morse in New York Harbor in 1842. Insulated with India rubber, it did not last long. After German-English inventor William Siemans (18231883) devised a machine to apply gutta-percha as insulation in 1847, submarine cables were laid across the English Channel from Dover, England, to Calais, France, between 1850 and 1851. Unsuccessful attempts to span the Atlantic were made in 1857, 1858, and 1865, all under the guidance of American entrepreneur Cyrus West Field (1819 1892). On July 27, 1866, Field was successful in his fourth attempt. Having connected the United States to Europe, he immediately returned to sea, recovered the lost 1865 cable, and had a second transatlantic telegraph cable working that same year. By 1940, there were 40 transatlantic cables in operation. Ten years later, some of these cables began to fail and were not repaired for economic reasons. In 1956, transatlantic telephone cables were first laid, and in 1966, the last of the exclusively telegraph cables were abandoned.

Throughout its history, the telegraph proved especially useful to the military. The Allied Army in Bulgaria first used it for these purposes in 1854 during the Crimean War. A transcontinental telegraph line had been completed in the United States just as the Civil War began, and the telegraph proved enormously useful to both sides. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, undersea telegraph cables were cut as an act of belligerency for the first time, and, in World War I, teleprinters with secret codes were heavily used by all combatants.

The earliest teleprinter was invented by American inventor Royal Earl House (18141895), in 1846, only two years after Morses first success. The transmitter had 28 character keys and employed a crude system that even had a hand crank. Although it was used for only a few years, it was the forerunner of both the teleprinter and the stock ticker. At the turn of the

KEY TERMS

Code A system of symbols arbitrarily used to represent words.

Electromagnet A coil of wire surrounding an iron core that becomes magnetized when electric current flows through the wire.

Gutta-percha A yellowish to brownish, somewhat leathery solid that is prepared from the latex of a South Sea Island tree. On heating, it becomes plastic and very resistant to water.

Semaphore A signaling device that uses moving arms, human or mechanical, whose position indicates letters or numbers.

Sounder The receiving device used in the aural type of telegraph reception that consists of an electromagnet constructed to give slightly different sounds to dots or dashes.

Teleprinter A device also called a teletypewriter that sends and receives written messages along lines or via satellites.

century, Nova Scotia, Canada, inventor Frederick G. Creed (18711957), experimented in Scotland with using a typewriter to send printed messages without using the Morse code. His teleprinter system did not catch on in England, and in 1907, Charles L. Krumm of the United States designed the prototype version of the modern teleprinter. This system was subsequently improved, and during the 1920s became known by the American Telephone and Telegraph trade name, Teletype. Commercial teleprinter exchange services called TRX and Telex were developed during the next decade that were capable of printing up to 500 characters per minute. By 1964, this was up to 900 characters per minute. By then, technical improvements in the telephone had made an entire new range of technology available to telegraphy, and today, the telegraph has evolved into a modern digital data-transmission system. Todays modern systems use television coaxial cables, microwave, optical fiber, and satellite links to achieve an extremely high transmission rate.

The invention of the telegraph could in some ways be seen as the real beginning of the modern age of technology, given the way in which it so interconnected the entire world. Almost coincidental with its birth, there was the emergence of a new kind of journalism that made currency its stock in trade. Reporting events that had only just occurred took precedence over a newspapers traditional editorial role, and news was reported almost as soon as it happened. Corporations also could become larger and more far-flung, and nations became necessarily interdependent. With the telegraph, informationin all its aspects and formsbegan to assume the critical role it plays today.

Resources

BOOKS

Coe, Lewis. The Telegraph: A History of Morses Invention and Its Predecessors in the United States. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1993.

Holzmann, Gerald J., and Bjorn Pehrson. The Early History of Data Networks. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1995.

Israel, Paul. From Machine Shop to Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Silverman, Kenneth. Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F.B. Morse. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Leonard C. Bruno

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Telegraph

Telegraph

A telegraph is any system that transmits information by encoded signal across a distance. Telegraphs using electricity were invented separately in Europe and the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Their development contributed to the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the century.

Invention of the telegraph

In 1791, French engineer Claude Chappe (1763–1805) and his brother Ignace (1760–1829) invented an optical telegraph called a semaphore. It consisted of a series of towers with arms for making signals, and telescopes for seeing the arms between cities. Claude Chappe named it the telegraph after the Greek words tele, meaning distant, and graphien, meaning to write.

The invention of the battery by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827) in 1800 led to the development of an electric telegraph by English inventors William Fothergill Cooke (1806–1879) and Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875) in 1837. Their system used electricity to control five needles that pointed to letters and numbers arranged on a panel. The British railway adopted the new system, which was used in England until around 1870.

Around 1832, Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) saw the semaphore system in France. Although he was an artist, Morse devoted himself to

developing a telegraph system in America using electricity. With assistance from Alfred Vail (1807–1859), Joseph Henry (1797–1878), and others, Morse created a telegraph that he demonstrated publicly in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1837.

Morse's system could transmit a message over 1,700 feet of wire. To protect his invention, he filed for a patent from the U.S. Patent Office. To enable communication with the telegraph, Morse developed a code for translating short and long electric pulses into letters and numbers.

Development of the telegraph industry

Morse did not have enough money to build a system for testing the telegraph over great distances. He asked Congress to provide the money, which it finally did in 1843. With the money, $30,000, Morse constructed a pole line from Baltimore, Maryland , to Washington, D.C. On May 24, 1844, Morse sent his famous message to Vail along the line, asking, “What hath God wrought?”

Telegraph operators learned to read telegraph messages by listening to the clicking sound made by the system, according to Morse's code. By the 1850s, there were telegraph stations in major eastern and midwestern cities operated by many different companies. Operators sent messages from one station to another. The receiving station decoded the message into written form and gave the message to runners, who hand-delivered them to their recipients. The cost to send a message was about twenty-five cents per hundred miles for ten words or less.

Constructing telegraph lines was costly, requiring a commitment of between $100 and $200 per mile. The first line across North America to San Francisco, California , was completed in October 1861. By 1866 more than one hundred thousand miles of lines connected cities in North America, and the telegraph industry employed thousands of workers. That same year, a line was successfully laid in the Atlantic Ocean to link America with England by telegraph.

Impact on the nation

The Western Union Telegraph Company was organized in 1856. During the American Civil War (1861–65), both the Union and Confederate forces used the telegraph to communicate. After the war, Western Union emerged as the dominant company in the telegraph industry. Industrialist Jay Gould gave Western Union its greatest competition with the American Union Telegraph Company, formed in 1879.

The telegraph was instrumental in the Industrial Revolution and its progress across the North American continent. Manufacturers, financiers, and other businessmen could communicate directly and distantly with customers and agents. Steamboat operators used it to communicate navigation conditions on rivers. Railroads constructed their own telegraph lines to allow train schedules to work more efficiently. The invention of the stock ticker with telegraph technology allowed the investment industry to grow on Wall Street in New York and elsewhere.

The telegraph changed the newspaper industry, too. Prior to the telegraph, newspapers excelled at publishing editorial opinions. The telegraph allowed papers to publish the facts of news events soon after they happened. To minimize the cost of sending telegrams, journalists invented a form of abbreviated communication called telegraphic reporting.

Western Union's Last Telegram

On Friday, February 2, 2007, Western Union sent its last telegram. The popularity of telegrams peaked in the 1920s and 1930s. Telegrams declined as long-distance telephone calls became affordable in the middle of the twentieth century. In 2006, Western Union sent around 20,000 telegrams, charging about $10 for each. According to an article by the Associated Press, itself a product of the telegraph industry, Western Union telegrams sent in its final week of telegram operation included birthday wishes, condolences on a death, notice of an emergency, and other telegrams by people trying to be the last to send one. Although the telegram died, Western Union lived on as a major company in the field of money transfers and financial services.

In 1848, seven daily newspapers in New York formed the Associated Press (AP) to share the cost of using telegraph technology for gathering news. By 1880, fifty percent of the country's morning newspapers and twenty-five percent of its evening newspapers had access to the service. Because the papers covered all parts of the political spectrum of opinion, writers for AP news reports were instructed to report facts without slant. Some historians say this contributed to the development of a tradition of objectivity, or without bias, in journalism.

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Telegraph

Telegraph

A telegraph is any system that transmits encoded information by signal across a distance. Although it is associated with sending messages via an electric current , the word telegraph was coined to describe an optical system of sending coded messages. From its invention until the telephone became a viable system, the telegraph was the standard means of communicating both between and within metropolitan areas in both Europe and the United States. Telephones did not make the telegraph obsolete but rather complemented it for many decades. Telegrams and telexes used telegraphy but are rapidly being replaced by facsimile (fax) transmissions through telephone lines. Satellite transmission and high-frequency radio bands are used for international telegraphy.


History

The earliest forms of sending messages over distances were probably both visual and acoustic. Smoke signals by day and beacon fires by night were used by the ancient people of China, Egypt, and Greece. Drum beats extended the range of the human voice and are known to have sent messages as have reed pipes and the ram's horn. The Greek poet Aeschylus (c. 525-c. 455 b.c.) described nine beacon fires used on natural hills that could communicate over 500 mi (805 km), and the Greek historian, Polybius (c. 200-c. 118 b.c.), recounted a visual code that was used to signal the 24-letter Greek alphabet. It is also known that Native Americans used signal fires before colonial times and later. Visual systems had a greater range than ones that depended on being heard, and they were greatly stimulated by the seventeenth century invention of the telescope .

In 1791, the French engineer Claude Chappe (1763-1805) and his brother Ignace (1760-1829) invented the semaphore, an optical telegraph system that relayed messages from hilltop to hilltop using telescopes. The Chappes built a series of two-arm towers between cities. Each tower was equipped with telescopes pointing in either direction and a cross at its top whose extended arms could each assume seven easily-seen angular positions. Together, they could signal all the letters of the French alphabet as well as some numbers. Their system was successful and soon was duplicated elsewhere in Europe. It was Chappe who coined the word telegraph. He combined the Greek words tele meaning distance and graphien meaning to write, to define it as "writing at a distance." Its shortcomings however were its dependence on good weather and its need for a large operating staff. Advances in electricity would soon put this system out of business.

It was the invention of the battery and the resultant availability of electric charges moving at 186,000 mi (299,460 km) a second that accomplished this. Prior to this invention by the Italian physicist Alessandro Giuseppe A. A. Volta (1745-1827) in 1800, attempts to use electricity to communicate had failed because a dependable source of electricity was not available and the long, iron wires needed did not conduct electricity well and could not be properly insulated. Volta's new battery meant that experimenters had for the first time a reliable current of sufficient strength to transmit signals. The next major development was in 1819 when the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) demonstrated that he could use an electric current to deflect a magnetic needle. Further, he showed that the direction of the movement depended on the direction of the flow of the current. This pointed the way to the true telegraph. While several researchers in different countries were attempting to exploit the communications aspects of this discovery, two Englishmen, William Fothergill Cooke (1806-1879) and Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875), formed a partnership and designed a five-needle telegraph system in 1837. Their system used needles to point to letters of the alphabet and numbers that were arranged on a panel. Their electric telegraph was immediately put to use on the British railway system. This system was used primarily for railroad signalling until 1845 when an event raised the public's awareness of the potential of the telegraph. On New Year's Day, 1845, the telegraph was used to catch a murderer who had been seen boarding a train bound for London. The information was telegraphed ahead and the murderer was arrested, tried, and hanged.

Although Cooke and Wheatstone built the first successful telegraph based on electricity, it was an American artist and inventor, Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), who would devise a telegraph method that would eventually become universally adopted. Morse had begun investigating telegraphy at about the same time as his English rivals, but he had no scientific background and was getting nowhere until he was informed about the 1825 invention of the electromagnet that had been made by the English physicist William Sturgeon (1783-1850). Fortunately for Morse, he took his inquiries to the American physicist Joseph Henry (1797-1878), who had built in 1831 an extremely powerful electromagnet (it could lift 750 lb [341 kg] compared to Sturgeon's 9 lb [4.1 kg]). More importantly, Henry had successfully experimented with using the electromagnet to transmit signals and clearly understood what would become the fundamental principle of the telegraph—the opening and closing of an electric circuit supplied by a battery. Henry gladly enlightened Morse on the mysteries of electromagnetism , and the determined Morse took it from there. He enlisted the aid of a young mechanic, Alfred Vail, and together they improved on the work Morse had already started. These early attempts using an electromagnet resulted in a pen touching a moving piece of paper to record a series of dots and dashes. This system presumes a coded message, and Morse had created his own system which, when he collaborated with Vail, resulted in the now-famous Morse code. Vail contributed significantly to the code, having visited a printer to determine which letters were most and least often used. Their code was then based on the most common letters having the simplest, shortest of symbols (dots and dashes). By 1837, they had put together a system which used a single, simple operator key which, when depressed, completed an electric circuit and sent a signal to a distant receiver over a wire. Their first public demonstration was made at Vail's shop in Morristown, New Jersey, and in 1843, the U. S. Government appropriated funds to build a pole line spanning the 37 mi (59.5 km) between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. On May 24, 1844, the historic message, "What hath God wrought?" was sent and received. Once the system became practiced, it was found that skilled operators could "read" a message without looking at the dots and dashes on the paper by simply listening to the sound of the electromagnet's clicking. This led to the elimination of the paper and an even simpler electric telegraph system that used only a key, battery, pole line, and a new sounder to make the dot or dash clicking sound clear. Using such simple equipment and a single, insulated copper wire, Morse's telegraph system spread quickly across the United States and eventually replaced the older, English versions in Europe.

As the telegraph system grew and spread across the world, improvements followed fairly quickly. One of the first was Morse's development of a relay system to cover longer distances. His relay used a series of electromagnet receivers working on low current, each of which opened and shut the switch of a successive electric circuit supplied by its own battery. Telegraph use increased with the invention in Germany of the duplex circuit, allowing messages to travel simultaneously in opposite directions on the same line. In 1874, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) designed a double duplex called a quadruplex. This higher-capacity system needed eight operators who handled four messages at one time, two in each direction. A high-speed automatic Morse system also had been invented by Wheatstone in 1858, whose punched-paper tape idea offered a means by which a message could be stored and sent by a high speed transmitter that could read the holes in the tape. This system could transmit up to 600 words per minute. The most revolutionary and innovative improvement however was a time-division, multiplex-printing telegraph system devised in 1872 by the French engineer, Jean Maurice Emile Baudot (1845-1903). His system was based on his new code which replaced the Morse code. It employed a five-unit code whose every character contained five symbol elements. The heart of his system was a distributor consisting of a stationary faceplate of concentric copper rings that were swept by brushes mounted on a rotating assembly. This logical system greatly increased the traffic capacity of each line and was so far ahead of its time that it contained many elements from which modern systems have evolved.

By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the world was connected by telegraph lines, including several cables that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The first underwater conductor was laid by Morse in New York Harbor in 1842. Insulated with India rubber, it did not last long. After the German-English inventor, William Siemans (1823-1883) devised a machine to apply gutta-percha as insulation in 1847, submarine cables were laid across the English Channel from Dover, England to Calais, France in 1850-51. Unsuccessful attempts to span the Atlantic were made in 1857, 1858, and 1865, all under the guidance of American entrepreneur, Cyrus West Field (1819-1892). On July 27, 1866, Field was successful in his fourth attempt, and having connected the United States to Europe, he immediately returned to sea, recovered the lost 1865 cable, and had a second transatlantic telegraph cable working that same year. By 1940 there were 40 transatlantic cables in operation. Ten years later, some of these began to fail and were not repaired for economic reasons. In 1956, transatlantic telephone cables were first laid, and in 1966, the last of the exclusively telegraph cables were abandoned.

Throughout its history, the telegraph proved especially useful to the military. It was first used for these purposes in 1854 by the Allied Army in Bulgaria during the Crimean War. A transcontinental telegraph line had been completed in the United States just as the Civil War began, and the telegraph proved enormously useful to both sides. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, undersea telegraph cables were cut as an act of belligerency for the first time, and in World War I, teleprinters with secret codes were heavily used by all combatants.

The earliest teleprinter was invented by an American, Royal E. House, in 1846, only two years after Morse's first success. The transmitter had 28 character keys and employed a fairly crude system that even had a hand crank. Although it was used for only a few years, it was the forerunner of both the teleprinter and the stock ticker. At the turn of the century, a Nova Scotia inventor, Frederick G. Creed (1871-1957), experimented in Scotland with using a typewriter to send printed messages without using the Morse Code. His teleprinter system did not catch on in England, and in 1907, Charles L. Krumm of the United States designed the prototype version of the modern teleprinter. This system was subsequently improved, and during the 1920s became known by the American Telephone and Telegraph trade name, Teletype. Commercial teleprinter exchange services called TRX and Telex were developed during the next decade that were capable of printing up to 500 characters per minute. By 1964, this was up to 900 characters per minute. By then, technical improvements in the telephone had made an entire new range of technology available to telegraphy, and today, the telegraph has evolved into a modern digital data-transmission system. Today's modern systems use television coaxial cables, microwave, optical fiber, and satellite links to achieve an extremely high transmission rate .

The invention of the telegraph could in some ways be seen as the real beginning of our modern age, given the way in which it so interconnected the entire world. Almost coincidental with its birth there was the emergence of a new kind of journalism that made currency its stock in trade. Reporting events that had only just occurred took precedence over a newspaper's traditional editorial role, and news was reported almost as soon as it happened. Corporations also could become larger and more far-flung, and nations became necessarily more interdependent. With the telegraph, information—in all its aspects and forms—began to assume the critical role it plays today.

Resources

books

Coe, Lewis. The Telegraph: A History of Morse's Invention andIts Predecessors in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1993.

Holzmann, Gerald J., and Bjorn Pehrson. The Early History ofData Networks. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1995.

Israel, Paul. From Machine Shop to Industrial Laboratory:Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.


Leonard C. Bruno

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Code

—A system of symbols arbitrarily used to represent words.

Electromagnet

—A coil of wire surrounding an iron core that becomes magnetized when electric current flows through the wire.

Gutta-percha

—A yellowish to brownish, somewhat leathery solid that is prepared from the latex of a South Sea Island tree. On heating, it becomes plastic and very resistant to water.

Semaphore

—A signalling device that uses moving arms, human or mechanical, whose position indicates letters or numbers.

Sounder

—The receiving device used in the aural type of telegraph reception that consists of an electromagnet constructed to give slightly different sounds to dots or dashes.

Teleprinter

—A device also called a teletypewriter that sends and receives written messages along lines or via satellites.

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