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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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How the Electric Telegraph Worked

Telegraph key for sending Morse code messages.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.

Key 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.

SounderThe impact did not end there: That simple electrified wire paved the way for an entire telecommunications industry.








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