Morse TelegraphIn the beginning of the industrial age,cities were expanding and railroads were growing, but people couldn’t getmessages or news to other people fast enough. There were some electricalcommunications, but all were to slow or to complicating. Railroads weregrowing to fast, they were connecting cities to each other, and there neededsome form of communication of some sort fast enough to past messages around. That is what Morse system of telegraphy did.
In the early 19th century, all of the essentialcomponents necessary to construct an electrical communication system hadbeen discovered. The most important of these were the battery by Volta,the relationship between electric current and magnetism by Oersted, andthe electromagnet by Henry. It now remained for someone to find a practicalmethod to combine these technologies into a working communication system. Some commercial electrical communicationssystems existed in Europe as early as the 183Os.
A classic example of thisis the English “Needle Telegraph”. The needle telegraph required two ormore lines to form a complete circuit. It was also relatively slow andthe design of the transmitting and receiving instruments was complex. Somethingsimple and efficient was needed. Samuel Finley Breese Morse invented theMorse system of telegraphy in the 1840s in the United States. “Morse Code”is essentially a simple way to represent the letters of the alphabet usingpatterns of long and short pulses.
A unique pattern is assigned to eachcharacter of the alphabet, as well as to the ten numerals. These long andshort pulses are translated into electrical signals by an operator usinga telegraph key, and the electrical signals are translated back into thealphabetic characters by a skilled operator at the distant receiving instrument. It has also been acknowledged that Morse’s partner Alfred Vail very likelyassisted in the development of the code and the instruments used to transmitand receive it. Morse telegraphy became the standard methodof electrical communication in both the United States and Europe due toits simplicity and ability to work on inferior quality wires. In 1851,countries in Europe adopted a new code known as “continental” or “international”code. This new code was a modification of the original Morse.
The new codeeliminated the characters using spaced dots, which were found to causeerrors in transmission on undersea cables. The new code became the standardfor all telegraph work except in North America where the original Morsewas used on all landline circuits (except for undersea cable). The applications of the Morse telegraphwere many. The best known of these to the public was the commercial telegramservice. The railroads were an early and enthusiastic user of the Morsesystem, which improved the efficiency, and safety of railroad operationsmanifold.
The Associated Press was originally an alliance of Morse telegraphservices and operators dedicated to news dispatches. Industry found the telegraph indispensablefor the transmission of business related communication including informationon stocks and commodities. The American Civil War was the one of the firstdemonstrations of the military value of the telegraph in the control oftroop deployment and intelligence. Even the flow of oil through pipelineswas controlled by Morse telegraph. The railroad and the steamship improvedcommunications within nations and across the world.
Britain introducedan inexpensive postal system, which further improved communication. Messages that once would have taken days to arrive now took minutes orseconds. In 1851, the first underwater telegraph cable was installedunder the English Channel. It made rapid communication between Britainand the continent possible.