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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Telegraph Era

Telegraph gang at work in Rocky MountainsNo matter how fast the messenger, or how important the message, postal workers always have been constrained by physical limitations. More enterprising individuals tried to circumvent this problem through smoke signals, mirrors, sight relays, and carrier-animals, all with limited success.

With the advent of the electrical telegraph in 1830, however, coded messages could be delivered almost instantly. The first electrical telegraph was a simple device featuring two discrete points connected by a single electrified wire. An electric current sent along the wire could activate an electromagnet to ring a bell. Shortly after, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse refined the system, developing a coded language and working to commercialize and popularize telegraphic communication.

Alberta was quick to catch on to the telegraph as a means of transportation. A telegraph line to the province was established in the 1870s, even before the arrival of the railway.

The telegraph has proven to be one of the most revolutionary discoveries in history, doing for communications what the wheel did for transportation. The telegraph paved the way for the telecommunications industry as we know it today.

 


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