The Telegraph

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 October 2016

The Telegraph

When the telephone did not exist, what device did people use for communications? The telegraph was the answer, made by Samuel F. B. Morse. An invention that could transmit an electric pulse across a cable to send messages. This invention was looked poorly upon at the beginning of its time. But one man had the guts to invest in Morse’s telegraph, and he soon became one of the reasons the telegraph was created. The telegraph caused the telephone to be invented. Morse had wanted to be able to “talk across continents. ” The telegraph was not a small device such as a cellular phone.

It was a device that was and emplacement, that was installed into its location, it was bulky and took up a lot of space. Morse slowly improved his model to be able to put it in ships, so that it did not require a direct transit cable to connect to the receiving end. Some thought Morse was crazy and wasting his money, yet he devoted his savings to create something that started the possible idea that we could talk to someone who was halfway around the world. The telegraph was a complex designed that did not even seem to be possible at the time of the industrial revolution.

Unlike some inventors that required a break in the middle of the making of their invention, he stayed working on it because he was devoted to creating the transmitting device. Slowly Morse developed the thought of the telegraph and he began to manufacture what today is known as the telegraph and morse code. Ever since 1792, telegraphs have been around in Europe. These telegraphs were in the form of semaphore lines, or optical telegraphs. This sent a message to a distant observer through the line-of-sight, which was a simplified version of telegraph. This required both parties to be in visible sight of each other. In 1837, Samuel F.

B. Morse, a famous artist turned inventor, had the idea of a telegraph sending telegrams. Telegrams are messages sent across an electric cable in morse code. This idea meant that your message was not sent face to face with the person, it was sent across a cable to another telegraph that, a person who knew morse code could decode. Morse shortly describes his definition of the telegraph. “The telegraph, in the comprehensive sense in which it is usually but erroneously applied to all modes of communicating at a distance, is a very ancient invention, and in this expanded general sense cannot therefore be claimed by any modern inventor.

But in the true sense of the word, as signifying imprinting or writing at a distance, the telegraph is a modern invention, and does not date farther back than the year 1832. It is, therefore, proposed to use the term telegraph in its strict etymological sense; thus distinguishing it from all other modes of communicating at a distance with which it has hitherto been confounded. ”(Morse, 7) Morse defines his telegraph, as something that was indescribable at that time. The telegraph comes from greek roots, tele, which means long distance, and graphos, which means to write. So this was a message sent across a long distance.

The messages that were sent across a telegraph, was always in morse code. Morse code, the name itself, comes from Samuel Morse. He gave the vowels of english, the shortest beeps, and the most unused letters, the longest. These were represented by dashes and lines. When morse first used the telegraph, to send a message, the first message was: (From:http://memory. loc. gov/mss/mmorse/071/071009/0001d. jpg) This says “What hath God wrought? ” The morse code for this would look much different than the english text. Morse code is a representation of long and short sounds that make up letters, these letters make up words.

These words, all together, make up a message. Morse had made the first electromagnetic telegraph. Morse, when he started to actually design and make his invention, had gone to Washington D. C. to ask congress whether he was allowed to receive some funding for his telegraph design, to test it out. The congressmen did know little about science, and were not ready to provide money to a painter turned inventor. He continued his journey to find funding and make a patent. He believed the Europeans were more outgoing, but he once again was turned down.

When Morse sent his first message, it was received, by Alfred Vail, his partner,on the other end, in an instant. And Vail sent the message back, and yet again, it was received in an instant. “Morse’s first telegraph receiver was a simple device, made of everyday household objects—a picture frame fastened to a table, the wheels of an old clock, and lead pieces which he himself melted. He hung a pencil at the end of a pendulum, and used a type rule to break the circuit. It worked on the very first try. But the world was not interested in his new invention, and Morse was out of money. (Gale, 527) “In the hopes of garnering support for his invention, Morse held a demonstration of his telegraph in the fall of 1837. At the time, he was teaching painting and sculpture at the University of the City of New York (now New York University). He used his classroom as his stage, inviting wealthy businessmen to view his contraption. When Morse sent his code over the circuit, a pencil hung above a paper at the other end of the wire began to write out a series of dots, dashes and spaces. But while many of the investors found this invention exciting, most feared it wouldn’t be practical to use.

All, except one young man. In the room was a wealthy university student named Alfred Vail (1807-1859). His curiosity was piqued, and he asked Morse to explain his invention further. Vail’s father and brother owned a large brass and ironworks factory, and he believed they could help develop some of the instruments needed for the telegraph and would be interested in a partnership. Morse offered them one-fourth interest in the telegraph. Morse also asked his friend, science professor Leonard Gale, to join them. Gale introduced Morse to Joseph Henry (1797-1878) and his work on electromagnets.

Henry had constructed a working electromagnetic telegraph in 1831. Together, the team worked to improve the invention, which they named the American Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. ”(Gale, 527) He then worked with Alfred Vail, they made the telegraph together, and came up with Morse code together. Samuel Morse, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on April 27th, 1791. He attended Yale College, and was both interested in painting and in the developing subject of electricity. He began his painting career and quickly grew to be a very well known painter. He painted the Louvre, and many other historical sites, and many sceneries.

He spent most of his life in the growing industry of electricity, where he started his telegraph project. Morse was thoroughly interested in electricity and while on a cruise ship from Europe to the U. S. , he overheard a conversation about electromagnetism, which gave him his idea of the electric telegraph. Morse wanted to reduce the wires required for a telegraph to one. The germans had designed a telegraph with 5, and at the beginning there were 26, one for each letter. When Morse first began his intuitive design for a one wire telegraph, his economic situation was not the greatest, he use crude and non-expensive materials from home.

The transatlantic cable was a very important invention in the 1800’s. This cable helped start global communication, which is very important in today’s society. The transatlantic cable project started in 1857 and was finished in August 5, 1858, built by Cyrus Field and the Atlantic Telegraph Company. This cable crossed the Atlantic Ocean from North America to Europe. Eventually the quality of the cable declined until being impossible to use. It was then replaced by a quadruplex cable that was more durable and able to send multiple messages at a time.

Additional cables were added to make a more complex system that connected more Europeans to North America and to other European countries. The inventor of this product was Cyrus Field. Field was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on October 20, 1819 to David Dudley Field and had three brothers. He moved to New York at the age of 15 working as an errand boy for the largest dried goods emporium in the city until he returned to Stockbridge after 3 years. Field then went into paper manufacturing which made him the richest man in the city. Field then went on to retire at the age of 34 with $250,000, what would now be about $6. million (PBS). Cyrus then turned his attention to telegraphy. In 1854 he helped make a 400 mile telegraph line connecting St. Johns, Newfoundland with Nova Scotia with the help of Peter Cooper, Abram Stevens Hewitt, Moses Taylor and Samuel F. B. Morse. The next year they created the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Then after securing financing in England and backing from the American and British governments, they began to lay down the first continental telegraph cable. Although the cable only functioned for three weeks, it was the first such project that yielded practical results.

The very first message sent through the cable was from Queen Elizabeth to President James Buchanan, stating “Europe and America are united by telegraphy. Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men. ” (Geere). The cable’s signal quality declined rapidly until Wildman Whitehouse, the chief electrician of the Atlantic Telegraph company attempted to restore the cable by adding extra voltage but this only destroyed the cable entirely. A second attempt at creating a long term successful cable was undertaken in 1865 with much improved material. Following some setbacks the cable was finally completed and put into service n 1867 (History Magazine). This cable proved to be more durable than the last. Previously before this cable, communication between North America and Europe could only be possible by ships which were sometimes delayed for weeks because of severe winter storms. The transatlantic cable reduced the time taken to send a message across the Atlantic Ocean, allowing a message and a response to be sent in the same day. This cable revolutionized the way that long distance communication functioned. From going by boat or train for days a message could now be sent in a matter of hours crossing the Atlantic, changing mass communication forever.

The transatlantic cable was the first electronic message system that could be sent across an ocean separating two continents. This definitely pioneered the way for other cables in the future connecting other places and also helped connect cultures from two different countries. Like the telegraph the transatlantic cable was very important for our future in communication overall, but the transatlantic cable helped more to shape our very important future in mass communication. The transatlantic cable helped to pioneer the way for more electronically transmitted messages in the future.

After the first cable was laid down and destroyed within a couple of weeks more cables started to sprout up across the Atlantic Ocean. There was a cat’s cradle of cables stretching as far north as Sweden and Russia as far south as Australia and South Africa (Zuberi). There was just a massive boom of cables all across the planet. Mass communication is an important part of world history. These cables helped set up the future of all the cables we use today. After telegraph cables were used, telephone cables were laid down across the Atlantic starting in 1956. Today there are fiber optic cables that connect the U.

S. to Europe that can send signals within seconds (Dellinger). These cables help send messages politically, economically and socially. These cables also help us communicate with others around the world. All of these remarkable achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the first transatlantic cable. Before the transatlantic cable messages could only be sent by ships across the Atlantic Ocean. This could take days and would often be delayed by severe winter storms delaying the messages for weeks! Important messages could be delayed and it would be too late for the messages to be effective.

Before the cable, Europe and North America seemed distant and not very connected, but this all changed when the transatlantic cable was laid down. Connecting these two continents boosted both the U. S. and European economies and changed things politically. Important messages about both world wars were sent across these cables. These cables impacted both continents greatly because people could now send messages instead of waiting for days or weeks sending messages by ship. Thus this cable impacted how we run the world today with global trade and politics showing this that this invention is far more important than the telegraph.

Throughout the Industrial Revolution, both the Transatlantic Cable and the Telegraph were inventions that brought knowledge a step forward, but he Transatlantic Cable was not as important as the Telegraph. The telegraph, made my Samuel Morse, was an invention that connected people with early communication, but the Transatlantic Cable was mainly built, or put into place because of the telegraph, the Transatlantic Cable was a cable that spanned the Atlantic giving us the ability to talk using telegraph. We could send messages across this cable.

If the telegraph had not been invented, the Trans-Atlantic Cable would not have been installed. The telegraph brought humans a step closer to, what today is known as, a phone. The Transatlantic Cable may have impacted us greatly, but did not impact more than the telegraph. Those who think that the Trans-Atlantic Cable is more important than the telegraph, may see how it was a huge installation that provided jobs, and it connected us to Europe, Africa, and Asia, but they don’t see how it was impacted by the telegraph, to be installed.

Although the Trans-Atlantic Cable was a very important part of the industrial revolution, it did not impact the history of today as the telegraph did. At first one would think that the telegraph is far more important than the transatlantic cable in history. But as I’ve researched the transatlantic cable I’ve realized that it is a very important piece of technology, even more important than the telegraph itself. First of all the telegraph was the start of electronic communication.

But the transatlantic cable was the start of mass communication connecting different continents, which is a very important aspect of today’s life. Sure there would still be communication between people in the same land mass but just think what it would be like for companies or oversea travelers trying to communicate around the world. It would take hours or even days for the messages to cross the ocean. Without the transatlantic cable life wouldn’t be as good as it is today with the global trading and communicating between countries. Therefore the transatlantic cable is more important to history than the telegraph.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 14 October 2016

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