Dating from 1830, the first telegraphs were simple devices
featuring two discrete points connected by a single electrified
wire. The circuit was alternately completed and broken through the
use of a telegraph key at the transmission point. Pressing the key
would complete the circuit, and lifting the key would break it.
An electromagnet at the receiving point responded to the current,
stopping only when that distant key was lifted. In this way, it
became possible to send coded messages almost instantly.
At first, telegraph messages were printed out by pencils affixed
to the electromagnet itself. By the 1850s, however, the code was
interpreted by telegraph operators who translated the heavy and
light clicking sounds into words.
Telegraph lines did more than allow people to transmit family
news; they also streamlined government operations, and made it
easier to regulate train traffic.
The impact did not end there: That simple electrified wire paved
the way for an entire telecommunications industry.
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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved