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Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) is generally credited with making the first practical telegraph in 1837. Although many researchers had worked on similar projects prior to Morse, his was the first instrument that could successfully send messages across wires utilizing electricity. Morse was originally a portrait painter in Boston, Massachusetts, when he became interested in devising a telegraphing device in 1832. He began experimenting with electrical methods of signaling with the technical assistance of chemistry professor Leonard Gale (1800–1883) and financial support from Alfred Vail (1807–1859). He developed a machine that utilizes an electric circuit and one overhead wire, while employing the Earth as the other conductor to complete the circuit. An electromagnet inside the receiver can be activated by alternately making and then breaking the circuit, producing distinctive clicks and resulting in a code called Morse code. These clicks are received by another machine in the form of messages. In this code a series of universally agreed upon dots and dashes represent each letter of the alphabet, allowing people to spell out messages to one another across a great distance.
Morse patented (received exclusive rights to make, sell, and use) his invention in 1840. On May 24, 1844, he sent the first message between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. It said, "What hath God wrought!" The success of Morse's experiment led the U.S. government to invest in establishing a network of telegraph wires across the country and by 1861 most U.S. cities were linked by wire. The first transcontinental wire was installed on October 24, 1861, effectively ending the era of the Pony Express (messages carried by riders on horseback) and revolutionizing communication.
In 1866 the first successful transatlantic cable was laid for the telegraph, and in 1872 J. B. Stearns of Massachusetts devised the first cable for twoway transmission, allowing for more complex and speedy communication. In 1874 Thomas A. Edison (1847–1931) developed a "quadruplex" communication wire, which enabled up to four messages to be sent across the same wire simultaneously. Although the introduction of the telephone in 1875 reduced the need for the telegraph, it remained a viable and popular means of communication well into the twentieth century.
Further Information: "Morse, Samuel F. B." Infoplease.com. [Online] Available http://www.infoplease. com/ipa/A0767178.html, November 8, 2000; Staiti, Paul J. Samuel F. B. Morse. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
The telegraph was invented by Samuel F.B Morse in 1837.
IN 1837 Samuel F.B. Morse invented the telegraph.
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