Tuesday, December 30, 2014


 A form of communication known to both sender and receiver for data transmission over long distances is called as Telegraph and this process is known as Telegraphy. Early examples of the telegraph include drumbeats or smoke signals to exchange information between far-flung points as used in ancient civilizations such as those in China, Egypt and Greece .

However, such methods were limited by the weather. Semaphore was also a modern precursor to the electric telegraph, developed in the early 1790s. A series of hilltop stations makes a semaphore. Each station had large movable arms to signal letters and numbers and two telescopes to see the other stations. The semaphore was susceptible to weather and other factors that hindered visibility like ancient smoke signals.

Before the invention of telegraph, politics and business were constrained by geographic boundaries. There was limited knowledge of national or international news, and that which was shared later on used to be quite dated. After the telegraph, the world has changed. There was a feeling as if information could flow like air. During the middle and end of the 19th century, Electrical telegraphs, which are also known as telegrams, were a highly popular form of communication. But here is still a question left in mind that who invented this telegraph system. Let us have a look over this.

Samuel Morse is considered as the real inventor of the telegraph system and he helped to invent the Morse code system. In addition to his inventions, he was also a critically appraised artist. He was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, son of a pastor, Jedidiah Morse. Pastor Morse held strong Calvinist teachings and sent his son to Yale to receive religious training. While studying at Yale, Samuel Morse attended a lecture on electricity, but still was an accomplished artist. He supported himself with his paintings.

After completing graduation, Samuel Morse continued his career as an artist and in 1825, New York City commissioned him to paint a portrait of Gilbert de Motier. The painting was left incomplete as days later, he received a message delivered by horseback that his wife was in grave condition. As soon as Morse received the message and reached home, his wife had passed away. It was then that Samuel Morse decided to find a faster and more efficient method of communication than those currently available.

Two forms of the telegraph use electricity. These include the electrical and electromagnetic telegraphs. The electrical telegraph is one that uses electric pulses to send communications over a line or radio. Electromagnetic telegraphs are systems that use a device to transmit signals and data from one person to another.

To transmit messages across telegraph wires, in the 1830s Morse and Vail created Morse code. The code assigned letters in the alphabet and numbers a set of dots (short marks) and dashes (long marks) based on the frequency of use; letters used often (such as “E”) got a simple code, while those used infrequently (such as “Q”) got a longer and more complex code. Initially the code was rendered as marks on a piece of paper that the telegraph operator would then translate back into English, when transmitted over the telegraph system,.

In 1832 Samuel Morse was assisted by Alfred Vail and conceived of the idea for an electromechanical telegraph, called the "Recording Telegraph." This commercial application of electricity was made tangible by their construction of a crude working model in 1835-36. This instrument probably was never used outside of Professor Morse's rooms but was used in a number of demonstrations.

The telegraph was further refined by Morse, Vail, and a colleague, Leonard Gale, into working mechanical form in 1837. In this year Morse filed a patent for it at the U.S. Patent Office. Electricity, provided by Joseph Henry's intensity batteries, was sent over a wire. The key of the device was used for interruption in between the flow of electricity through the wire for shorter or longer periods by holding down the key of the device. The resulting dots or dashes were recorded on a printer or could be interpreted orally. In 1838, Morse reached to the perfection in his sending and receiving code and organized a corporation, making Vail and Gale his partners.

In 1843, Morse built a telegraph system from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore with the financial support of Congress. On May 24, 1844, the first message, “What hath God wrought?” was sent through the telegraph system. Prior to the telegraph, it took days, weeks, and even months for messages to be sent from one location to a far-flung position. Around 1850s there was an advancement in telegraph. It was realized that the clicks of the recording instrument portrayed a sound pattern, understandable by the operators as dots and dashes. This allowed the operator to hear the message by ear and simultaneously write it down. This ability transformed the telegraph into a versatile and speedy system.

After the telegraph cable was stretched from coast to coast in the 1850s, a message from London to New York could be sent in few minutes, and the world suddenly became much smaller through this telegraphic communication system. By the 1850s, predictions about its impact used to be a general topic of discussion. The telegraph would alter business and politics. It would make the world smaller, erase national rivalries and contribute to the establishment of world peace. It would make newspapers obsolete.

Rather than taking weeks to be delivered by horse-and-carriage mail carts, pieces of news could be exchanged between telegraph stations almost instantly.

Later on new advancements were approached by many other inventors in the telegraphic system. Like Thomas Edison's Quadruplex allowed four messages to be sent over the same wire simultaneously, two in one direction and two in the other. In 1883, an English automatic signaling arrangement, Wheatstone's Automatic Telegraph allowed larger numbers of words to be transmitted over a wire at once. It could only be used advantageously, however, on circuits where there was a heavy volume of business. 

Buckingham's Machine Telegraph was also an improvement on the House system. It printed received messages in plain Roman letters quickly and legibly on a message blank, ready for delivery. Vibroplex, about 1890, a semi-automatic key sometimes called a "bug key," made the dots automatically. This relieved the operator of much physical strain.

People were very eager for a faster and easier way of sending and receiving information so they quickly accepted this system of communication over long distances. However, widespread and successful use of the device required a unified system of telegraph stations among which information could be transmitted. 

The Western Union Telegraphy Company, founded in part by Cornell, was at first only one of many such companies that developed around the new medium during the 1850s. By 1861, however, Western Union had laid the first transcontinental telegraph line, making it the first nationwide telegraph company. In 1866, the first permanent telegraph cable had been successfully laid across the Atlantic Ocean; there were 40 such telegraph lines across the Atlantic by 1940.

New technologies began to emerge by the end of the 19th century, however, many of them based on the same principles first developed for the telegraph system. Now this time, these new technologies have overshadowed the telegraph from regular widespread usage. Although the telegraph has been replaced by the even more convenient telephone, fax machine and Internet, its invention stands as a turning point in world history. It laid the groundwork for the communications revolution that led to those later innovations.

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