Following upon the 1825 development of an electromagnet by
British inventor William Sturgeon, the American scientist Joseph
Henry demonstrated in 1830 that an electric current sent along a
mile-long wire could activate an electromagnet to ring a bell. This
would be considered the birth of the electric telegraph, and the
forerunner of what would become a telecommunications industry.
While many applications of telegraphy had been developed in
Germany, France and Great Britain, it would be American inventor
Samuel F.B. Morse who would be credited with ultimately bring
telegraphic technology to the forefront of communications culture.
The American inventor, who would eventually develop and give his
name to the dots and dashes of international Morse Code, was the
first to show the commercial possibilities of Henry’s demonstration.
In 1835, Morse, then a professor of arts and design at New York
University, transmitted signals by wire, using pulses of electrical
current to deflect an electromagnet, which moved markers attached to
the electromagnet. A year later, and with modifications to his
telegraph receiver, the markers would be abandoned in favour of
embossed code on paper tickertape.
It would be three years before the public would see Morse’s work,
and a further five years before the US Congress would approve an
expenditure of $30,000 to construct a 40-mile (64 kilometre)
telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore. The first telegraph
message, sent on 24 May 1844, was "What hath God wrought?"
By 1861, the US was linked by telegraph "from sea to shining
sea," and in the early years of American telegraphy, communities
were connected by more than 23,000 miles (37,000 kilometres) of
Morse’s system was adopted by several European countries, and in
1858, he was paid 400,000 francs as compensation for its use. Its
early application during periods of international armed conflict
would be revealed during the Crimean War (1854-56), the American
Civil War (1861-65), the Spanish-American War (1898), and the
Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).
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