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Morse Code and the Telegraph

Morse Code and the Telegraph


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The wireless telegraphy morse code sequences are derived from the wired telegraphy code and are shown in the sound summary below. Morse used in wireless telegraphy is colloquially known as CW (Continuous Wave). The practical use of morse code involves the use and recognition of many abbreviations, and as can be seen in the 1920's, there are 'short numercial' sequences defined.

Other abbreviations used in morse include  TU meaning 'thankyou', 73 meaning 'goodbye', PSE meaning 'please', WX meaning 'weather', plus a whole sequence of 3 letter "Q" codes.  Examples are QRZ meaning "Identify yourself", QSY meaning "Please change yopur operating frequency'.  Even other abbreviations are used that pertain to subject matter being communicated, eg K can mean "kilo" or "1,000", FNN can mean "599". 


On June 20, 1840, Samuel F. B. Morse was granted U.S. Patent No. 1,647A, “IMPROVEMENT IN THE MODE OF COMMUNICATING INFORMATION BY SIGNALS BY THE APPLICATION OF ELECTROMAGNETISM.” This invention later led to the creation of Morse Code.

In 1832, Samuel Finley Breese Morse began perfecting his version of an electric telegraph after he missed the death of his wife due to lag in communication. Morse’s electric telegraph consisted of eight parts:

  • A circuit of electric or galvanic conductors
  • A system of signs to communicate in the before-described circuit
  • A set of type adapted to regulate the communication
  • An apparatus called the “straight port-rule,” and another called the “ circular port-rule”
  • A signal-lever
  • A register which records permanently the signs communicated at any desired points in the circuit
  • A dictionary that translated pulses into numbers
  • Modes of laying the circuit of conductors.

Following the construction, it was apparent that a critical piece was still needed to effectively use the telegraph. A code was needed to transmit natural language using only pulses and the silence between them.

In 1836, the development of The Morse Code began with the help from inventor Alfred Vail. Eventually, Morse Code allowed operators to translate pulses and pauses into letters, words, and phrases which led to many other advancements in communication as we know today.

To learn more about the electric telegraph’s construct, you can find the full patent here.


A Forgotten History: Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse

Type “history of the telegraph” into a search engine and the results will point you to Samuel F. B. Morse. History largely credits him with the invention of both the electromagnetic telegraph and Morse code, which enabled people to send instant messages across long distances. With Morse’s successful test of the electromagnetic telegraph on May 24, 1844, the potential for worldwide communication changed forever. The message he sent, “What Hath God Wrought?” traveled via his electromagnetic telegraph from Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. But who, you might wonder, was on the other end of the line? Alfred Vail, Morse’s colleague, received Morse’s message in Baltimore and then successfully returned the same message back to Morse in the national Capitol Building’s Rotunda. For Vail, this event was the culmination of years of his own labor and financial investment, yet his influence has largely been lost in the historical record.

Born to Bethiah and Stephan Vail on September 25, 1807 in Morristown, New Jersey, Vail’s father owned the Speedwell Iron Works where, after completing public school, Vail worked as a machinist. In 1832, he began coursework in theological studies at the University of the City of New York, now New York University, with the hope of becoming a Presbyterian minister. However, in 1837 Vail saw Morse demonstrate an early version of his electric telegraph at the university, and shortly after convinced Morse to take him on as a partner. The contract between the two, stated that Vail—for a share of interest in Morse’s rights to the telegraph—would work on constructing the telegraph machines and financing the American and foreign patents.

Vail vastly improved Morse’s original design of the machine. Instead of using pendulums, Vail added weights to the machine’s turning key. He also substituted a steel pointed pen for the pencil Morse had employed, to indent the code into the paper tape the machine used and improved the mechanics of the register, the instrument that punched out the code via electric impulse, as well. Additionally, Vail developed a simpler alphabetic system of code to replace Morse’s original, but more complicated numerical code, in which dashes and dots were interpreted as numbers and then translated into words in a code book. Vail’s alpha code greatly sped up the process of deciphering messages. Though his contributions to the project were extremely significant, it was Morse’s name that appeared on the patents. Consequently, Morse is remembered, and Vail is often not. But, that is the great thing about archives: they save the history, and fortunately for me, the Smithsonian Institution Archives holds Vail’s papers in Record Unit 7055. His papers contain research notebooks, correspondence with Morse, letters to family, patent applications, journals and scrapbooks, all documenting the development of the telegraph and Vail’s personal and professional life in the 1800s. Needless to say I was fascinated by reading through Vail’s scientific journals and his correspondence with Morse. From these materials which shed light on the rapport that he and Morse had with one another, I learned about Vail’s impact on the project.

What is perhaps ironic about this, is that Vail’s papers eventually came to the Smithsonian. In 1845, Vail published a book about his experience working with Morse on the electric telegraph. Vail wrote about some of the previous work done by others on telegraphs that influenced his and Morse’s work. However, Vail’s account failed to give recognition to Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian, who met with Morse and had invented the high intensity magnet used in Morse’s electric telegraph. For several years, a controversy ensued over the degree of Henry’s contribution to the mechanism. (For more about the controversy read David Hochfelder’s article, Joseph Henry: Inventor of the Telegraph?). So, “What Hath God Wrought?” For Alfred Vail it would seem to have been a lack of notoriety. However, in reading his letters, it seems that fame was neither his motivation nor goal. Vail’s work on the electric telegraph provided him with a life’s work and sense of accomplishment. And maybe, for him, that was enough.


Morse Telegraph – 1844

The man most commonly associated with the telegraph, Samuel Morse, did not invent the communications tool. But he developed it, commercialized it and invented the famous code for it that bears his name.

The early 1800s marked a time of rapid discovery in the fields of electricity and magnetism. Before long, inventors were actively seeking ways to harness the new knowledge for practical purposes. In 1831, American Joseph Henry demonstrated to his classes at the Albany Academy in New York an electromagnetic means of communication. Known for developing incredibly strong electromagnets, Henry used a battery linked to an electromagnet by a mile of copper wire to ring a bell. In 1832, after accepting a professorship at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), he relayed messages from his laboratory to his home via this early form of the telegraph.

It would fall to another man, however, to commercialize the telegraph and help introduce it to other people around America. Samuel Morse, a professor at New York University, developed a form of the telegraph in the 1830s that used an electric current to move an electromagnet attached to a marker that left a written code on a piece of paper. The recipient could then decipher the code. In 1836, Morse improved the device so that the code was embossed on the paper, rather than written. Later versions rendered the code not visually, but audibly. A transmitter sent an electric current through a wire, which at the receiving end flowed through an electromagnet. This created a magnetic field that caused the receiver’s metal key to be attracted to an underlying plate, resulting in a sound.

The code Morse used was of his own design. Dubbed “Morse code,” the system consisted of various combinations of dots, dashes and spaces to represent letters, numbers and punctuation. To produce a dot or dash, the sender pressed down on a simple key made of steel, hitting a metal plate beneath it. The contact completed an electric circuit, producing a pulse of electricity that traveled from the transmitter down a telegraph wire to the receiver. The amount of time the sender held down the key determined whether a dot or dash was received at the other end (a dash being equivalent to about three dots). Spaces occurred whenever the key was raised and the electric circuit broken. The length of a space signaled whether the code that followed was part of the same symbol or marked the beginning of a new symbol or word in the message.

Morse gave a public demonstration of the telegraph in 1838. But despite the tremendous potential of his invention, he struggled to find financial backers with the kind of money needed to build a working line across a long distance. Finally, after five years, Congress granted Morse $30,000 to build a trial telegraph line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland. The line made its debut before it was even finished, on the occasion of the 1844 national convention of the Whig party in Baltimore. A party member carried to Annapolis Junction (between Baltimore and Washington) the news that Henry Clay was their nominee for president. From there, Morse’s partner, Alfred Vail, sent the message the rest of the way by telegraph wire.

A few weeks later, the line was complete. For the official opening, Morse allowed a family friend to select the first message to be sent. She chose a verse from the Bible, “What hath God wrought!” On May 24, 1844, Morse sent that verse in Morse code from the Capitol to Vail, who was at the receiving end in Baltimore. As they say, the rest is history. The telegraph soon proved a tremendous success. Morse received funds to extend his line to additional cities, and telegraph companies began popping up across the country. Western Union, which became one of the largest, opened for business in 1851. Ten years later, their lines stretched from coast to coast, chiefly alongside railways, which were expanding at about the same time. In 1861, engineers built the first transcontinental telegraph line, and by the end of the century the telegraph connected much of the developed world. Some modifications of Morse code were required to accommodate different languages, but it proved adaptable.


Morse Code and the Telegraph - HISTORY

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TELEGRAPH

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) was born in Charleston, Massachusetts.

He was talented as an artist in his youth. He studied art, mathematics and science at Yale College.

He considered electrical and chemical studies "instructive and amusing."

He graduated from Yale College in 1810 and decided to devote himself to the study of art and he went to London in 1811 to study art there. By 1815 he had become recognized as an artist of considerable talent in England and returned to the United States. By 1825 he was also quite well known as a successful artist in this country.

In 1825 he returned to Europe for further study and stayed three years. On his return trip to the United States in 1832, during dinner conversations with a fellow passenger on the SS Sully, he became interested in science again upon learning what he considered to be a very astounding fact: that electrical impulses (on and off conditions)

apparently traveled instantaneously (as far as then could be determined) over any known length of wire. From that time on Morse could think of nothing else but how to put that phenomenon to use as a means of communication. He completely abandoned his career in art, except for teaching, (to gain his living) in favor of developing the telegraph" -- a means of "writing" at a distance

He arrived home from his 1832 voyage aboard the SS Sully without funds. His brothers, Sidney and Richard gave him a room on the top floor of a building they owned. There he lived and developed his ideas about how to build the telegraph. He took a job at the, then new, University of New York teaching art. It was a poor-paying job and he spent all the money he could get his hands on to work on his invention. One of his fellow professors, Leonard D. Gale, became interested and helped him.

In those days one could not buy insulated magnet wire as we have today. He and any help he could get had to wrap the bare wire with cotton thread for insulation, by hand, of course! They had a crude working model by 1837, but investors found it interesting, even amusing but wouldn't invest in it. This may have been due to the "code" system that he proposed using -- more on that later. One person watching the demonstration of this first, crude model was a young student, Alfred Vail. His father and brother were owners of an iron and brass works in Speedwell, New Jersey. Vail offered to manufacture a sturdier, more practical set of "instruments" for the telegraph.

He thereby became a partner with Morse with a quarter interest in the invention. The story has been told that not only did Vail contribute to the success of the hardware, but that he had a hand in developing the two versions of the "Morse code" as well.

In 1838 Morse tried to get Congress interested in funding a trial run of the telegraph but Congress refused funding for it. He then went to Europe in 1840 and got no help there from either France or England. Back in the U.S. he made an attempt to demonstrate his invention publicly in 1842. He had a specially made waterproofed cable laid under water from the Battery in lower Manhattan to Governor's Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

The newspapers carried an announcement of the demonstration and there was a crowd of on-lookers present and all was ready to go, when a ship dropped anchor right over the cable and broke it before the demonstration could get underway. The crowd went away angry, saying it was all a hoax.

Finally at the end of its session in 1843, Congress passed a bill appropriating $30,000 to test the telegraph. A wire was strung from the Capitol Building in Washington to the City of Baltimore, Maryland. On May 24, 1844, Morse sent the now famous message:

"WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT" [.-- . .- - . .- - . --. . . -.. .-- . .. . . ..- --. . -] over that wire. After that, Morse and his telegraph quickly became famous throughout North America and Europe.

Morse's original concept was not based upon the idea that anyone could learn to read the code by ear. His machine was designed to make marks on a moving paper tape in response to opens and closures of the circuit made on the sending end of the line. These marks he called "dots." According to his early plans (the 1837 model, no doubt) these dots would represent the numerals 0 through 9. [Note that this is similar to the system used in many municipal fire-alarm box setups used to this day] Messages, according to this concept, would then be composed of 5- or 6-digit numerals to identify words taken from a dictionary where each word in the language would be identified by a number. The receiving operator would read the numbers off the tape and look up their meanings in a copy of that dictionary. Vail, it is said, was the one who dissuaded Morse from that idea in favor of a code where each letter would be represented by a unique combination of "dots" and "dashes" -- the latter just a longer mark on the tape. It is quite possible also that it was Vail and not Morse who designed that code which now bears Morse's name. The first version of the code was like that of our International Morse code as used today, but without numerals or punctuation. It is not clear how that version was exported to Europe: perhaps in Morse's unsuccessful "sales" trip to France and England in 1840. But it is certain that when the telegraph began to be used in Europe, that was the version that they used from the very beginning and it became known as the Continental Morse Code. The numerals and punctuation were apparently added there, also.

Before the 1844 successful demonstration a different version of the Morse Code was developed, possibly by Vail, but that is not certain. In this newer version the letters were represented by combinations of dots, dashes and spaces.

This version was somewhat faster than the original version. It is the one that Morse used in his 1844 demonstration message. That version was used on all telegraph lines in the United States and later in Central and South America and it became known as the American Morse Code. At this point I would like to dispel a common notion among radio folks: that there is some reason that the American Morse, the landline code, can only be used on a sounder and the Continental Morse (now the International Morse Code) can only be used with on-and-off tones. This is not the case, either code can be used for either mode.

As I stated before, Morse had no idea that operators could learn to read (and make copy) of these dot-and-dash signals by ear. It was only after the tape machines had been in use for some time that it was found that the operators were writing the messages by sound rather than reading the marks off the tape, reading the clicks of the receiving apparatus by ear! Soon a device called a sounder became the receiving device of choice in place of the moving tape machines that Morse and his associates had labored so long to perfect.

To the untrained ear the telegraph sounder makes only a series of oddly spaced clicks and clacks, however, the skilled operator can easily distinguish between the "down-click" and the "up-clack" and thereby sense the length of the bit to determine whether it be a dot or a dash (or a long dash).

In the telegraph's heyday a skilled operator could make copy on a "mill" (typewriter) at 40 WPM or better, right through the noise those old mechanical typewriters made themselves. In addition, by using Phillip's Code (a set of abbreviations developed for that purpose) actual speeds up to well over 55 WPM were commonly achieved. When using the Phillip's Code the receiving operator would "fill" the text, that is he would spell out the words in full that came over the wire in abbreviated form. This mode was used by the various news-wire services in sending "press." (news items) The public-correspondence telegraph companies, such as Western Union and Postal Telegraph, however, spelled everything out in full in the texts of messages, including numerals and punctuation, a practice continued to this day in amateur-radio message handling.

When "wireless" came along some 60 years after the invention of the landline version, American Morse was used in the United States at first and the Continental Morse was used in Europe. Wireless signals (radio, of course) were generated almost exclusively by some form of spark-gap generator and those spark signals greatly resembled natural noise, especially atmospheric static (QRN).

It was found that the American version of the code with its spaces within some letters was more difficult to copy in the presence of atmospherics. Actually, I believe there was a lot more to it than that, but none-the-less it was decided that the Continental version of the code did a better job on wireless than the American (land-line) version and so almost all wireless was carried on via the Continental Morse code. This happened well before the advent of continuous-wave type signals generated by vacuum tubes, that later were used in the first successful amateur trans-atlantic QSOs in the early 20's. It has been the only aurally copied code used for manual radio telegraphy since that time, except for a few American-Morse buffs who use that code regularly on 80 meter CW.

Yes, it's legal for U.S. amateur use, provided the station ID (callsign) is sent in International Morse, that being the name by which the Continental Code has been called since sometime in the early 30's.

Some of the things we do or say today in ham radio have their origins in landline telegraphy customs and jargon. Laughter in American Morse was HO (. . .) this has led to our rather silly HI (. ..) in hamdom, (omitting the internal space of the Morse letter O). Despite some sources' claim that our rather widely used OK (or okay) came into use during the presidency of Martin VanBuren, (1782-1862) as an abbreviation of his nickname, " Old Kindernook," I strongly dispute that, it was strictly a telegraphic signal and was not an abbreviation for anything. No, "OK" was strictly a telegraph prosign, to use the modern designation. The signal UA (..- .-) was used as a question, much as we use "OK?" today, and the affirmative answer was OK (. . -.-).

Because of the existence of such number signals as 73 and 88, one might imagine that there was a whole list of such signals in general use, but I can find none. Oh, there were number signals used but in general they were private codes used within certain systems and none of wide-spread use. The signal 73 (--.. . -.) was originated by a veteran telegrapher, James Douglas Reid, who called it the "symbol of fraternity," not "best regards," as it is now generally accepted to mean. The signal 88, has no such history in telegraphy, being strictly of later, ham-radio origin. The signal 30 (. -. ___) was used on press circuits to indicate "end of article." This has been carried over into general radio practice, including ham radio, as the signal SK (. -.-), "end of work".

The character (. . ) is American Morse for the ampersand (&) and it is still used today in ham radio, but the space in that one makes it come out "ES" in the International code. The American Morse for comma (,) is (.-.-) and we still use that in CW message handling for the separation between lines in the address.Also landline Morse for zero is the long dash (___) but our modern electronic
keyers won't make the long dash, so we frequently hear zero being

sent as (-), which comes out T. So general was the practice in the earlier CW days, of sending the zero as a long dash, that when the tenth, or zero, call area was initiated by the FCC after World War
2, they saw fit to mention in the regulations that the zero in the callsign must be sent (-----) and
not (___).

I hope everybody enjoys reading this as much as I have enjoyed putting it into
print.

For those not familiar with the American Morse (landline) Code, here is a tabulation of that system.


Morse Transmits the First Message by Morse Code

On May 24, 1844 Samuel F. B. Morse transmitted the first message on a United States experimental telegraph line (Washington to Baltimore) using the &ldquoMorse code&rdquo that became standard in the United States and Canada. The message, taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23, and recorded on a paper tape, had been suggested to Morse by Annie Ellworth, the young daughter of a friend. It was &ldquoWhat hath God wrought?&rdquo The recipient of Morse's message was Morse's associate in developing the telegraph, machinist and inventor Alfred Vail.

Vail, who had worked with Morse since September 1837, expanded Morse's original experimental numeric code based on a optical telegraph codes, to include letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally. Vail determined the frequency of use of letters in the English language by counting the movable type he found in the type-cases of a local newspaper in Morristown. The shorter marks were called "dots", and the longer ones "dashes", and the letters most commonly used were assigned the shorter sequences of dots and dashes. Vail was thus responsible for inventing the most useful and efficient features of the Morse Code.

The Morse Code became the first widely used data code.

Probably the first publication of the Morse Code was in Vail's Description of the American ElectroMagnetic Telegraph: Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore (Washington: Printed by J. & G. S. Gideon,1845). Vail issued two versions of this in 1845: a 24-page pamphlet, with the title just mentioned, which was probably the first, and a much-expanded 208-page book "with the Reports of Congress, and a Description of All the Telegraphs Known, Employing Electricity or Galvanism." The rear wrapper of the 24-page pamphlet states that it was sold for 12.5 cents, and that the larger work which was "just published" by Lea & Blanchard, Philadelphia, was available for 75 cents.


History of Electrical Telegraph

Electrical Telegraph is a device that uses electrical signals to instantaneously send and receive messages over great distances via telecommunication lines or radio. The originator of this way of communication was electromagnetic telegraph from early years of the 19th century which enabled first transfer of coded messages between vast amounts of land. Electrical Telegraph (most commonly called just telegraph) was first introduced by several scientists from the United States and America, but most common name associated with it is Samuel Morse who won the patent rights to this device and was one of the contributors in the creation of Morse code. This new technology and Morse's coded language enabled the human race to start instantly communicating with one another across continents and oceans, creating great impact into our social and economical way of life.

The early days of telegraph started in the mid-1750s when scientist started exploring the properties of electricity. French scientist Jean-Antoine Nollet conducted an experiment by gathering around 200 monks in a circle. After discharging electricity into the wire that was connecting them all, he noted that electricity traveled instantaneously over a distance of one mile. This discovery sparked the imagination of scientist around the world, and several years later first documented proposal of the telegraph was found in the "Scots Magazine" when one anonymous writer suggested the creation of telegraph system that connected several telegraph with one wire for each letter of the alphabet. In 1800 famous Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created a first battery, an invention that would later become one of the integral parts of the modern telegraph. The year 1809 saw the creation of one interesting telegraph device by the hands of the German inventor Samuel Thomas von Sömmering. He improved the earlier designs of Francisco SalváiCampillo and created two terminal that were connected with 35 wires and could transfer information to the distance of few kilometers. His electrochemical design included a very interesting way of receiving messages - each of the wires (that carried signals for each of the German alphabets) was submerged into acid which released bubbles after receiving an electrical charge, and thus notifying the operator of the incoming message.

One of the first working designs of the modern telegraph was created in 1816 by English meteorologist and inventor Francis Ronalds, who created the 13-kilometer wire installation in his backyard (entire length of wire was encased in glass for insulation). In the following years several inventors contributed to the creation of the modern telegraph, some creating some vital part and some creating their whole versions of the telegraph - most notably William Sturgeon who invented electromagnet, Baron Schilling who made first electromagnetic telegraph in 1832, Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber who in following year managed to communicate at the distance of over 1km, and Joseph Henry who in 1835 invented electrical relay which had critical role in the future telegraphs.

The two versions of the electric telegraph that become widely used in the world came from England and United States. In 1837 England, inventors Sir William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone successfully patented telegraph and started implementing it two years later. Use of their telegraph remained in effect for a long time in England and many of their overseas colonies.

The most successful version of telegraph came from the minds of Samuel Morse (who developed designs for the device in 1836) and his assistant Alfred Vail (who helped Morse in creation of alphabet communication code). Their designs were officially adopted by US Government between 1843 and 1844, which marked the beginning of telegraph expansion across the entire world. By 1861 first transcontinental telegraph system connection was established between California and Western coast of USA, and five years later first transatlantic cable connected the USA and Great Britain. The global saturation of the telegraph continued to rise, especially after the 1892's patent of Thomas Edison who invented the method of two-way telegraph communication.


Morse Code and the Telegraph - HISTORY

The Beginning of Electronic Communications
In 1825, British inventor William Sturgeon (1783-1850) exhibited a device that laid the foundations for large-scale electronic communications: the electromagnet. Sturgeon displayed its power by lifting nine pounds with a seven-ounce piece of iron wrapped with wires through which the current of a single cell battery was sent.

In 1830, an American, Joseph Henry (1797-1878), demonstrated the potential of Sturgeon's device for long distance communication by sending an electronic current over one mile of wire to activate an electromagnet which caused a bell to strike. Thus the electric telegraph was born. Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872), whose sketches of a "magnetized magnet" in operation are shown here, successfully exploited Henry's invention commercially.

While a professor of arts and design at New York University in 1835, Samuel Morse proved that signals could be transmitted by wire. He used pulses of current to deflect an electromagnet, which moved a marker to produce written codes on a strip of paper - the invention of Morse Code. The following year, the device was modified to emboss the paper with dots and dashes. He gave a public demonstration in 1838, but it was not until five years later that Congress (reflecting public apathy) funded $30,000 to construct an experimental telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore, a distance of 40 miles.

Six years later, members of Congress witnessed the sending and receiving of messages over part of the telegraph line. Before the line had reached Baltimore, the Whig party held its national convention there, and on May 1, 1844, nominated Henry Clay. This news was hand-carried to Annapolis Junction (between Washington and Baltimore) where Morse's partner, Alfred Vail, wired it to the Capitol. This was the first news dispatched by electric telegraph.

The message, "What hath God wrought?" sent later by "Morse Code" from the old Supreme Court chamber in the United States Capitol to his partner in Baltimore, officially opened the completed line of May 24, 1844. Morse allowed Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of a friend, to choose the words of the message, and she selected a verse from Numbers XXIII, 23: "What hath God wrought?", which was recorded onto paper tape. Morse's early system produced a paper copy with raised dots and dashes, which were translated later by an operator.

Painting: Self Portrait by Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse and his associates obtained private funds to extend their line to Philadelphia and New York. Small telegraph companies, meanwhile began functioning in the East, South, and Midwest. Dispatching trains by telegraph started in 1851, the same year Western Union began business. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861, mainly along railroad rights-of-way.

In 1881, the Postal Telegraph System entered the field for economic reasons, and merged with Western Union in 1943.

The original Morse telegraph printed code on tape. However, in the United States the operation developed into sending by key and receiving by ear. A trained Morse operator could transmit 40 to 50 words per minute. Automatic transmission, introduced in 1914, handled more than twice that number.

In 1913 Western Union developed multiplexing, which it made possible to transmit eight messages simultaneously over a single wire (four in each direction). Teleprinter machines came into use about 1925. Varioplex, introduced in 1936, enabled a single wire to carry 72 transmissions at the same time (36 in each direction). Two years later Western Union introduced the first of its automatic facsimile devices. In 1959 Western Union inaugurated TELEX, which enables subscribers to the teleprinter service to dial each other directly.

Until 1877, all rapid long-distance communication depended upon the telegraph. That year, a rival technology developed that would again change the face of communication -- the telephone. By 1879, patent litigation between Western Union and the infant telephone system was ended in an agreement that largely separated the two services.

Samuel Morse is best known as the inventor of the telegraph, but he is also esteemed for his contributions to American portraiture. His painting is characterized by delicate technique and vigorous honesty and insight into the character of his subjects.

Samuel Morse - Patent Drawings
Samuel Morse developed telegraph wires and invented Morse code, an electronic alphabet patented in 1840 (1,647). The first telegraph was "What hath God wrought!" View the original patent drawing for this device.

History of Telegraphy and Samuel Morse
Telegraphy (in Greek: writing in distance) is, as we know, a communication system able to transmit signals which represent coded letters, numbers and signs of writing. From a book written in 1921, a detailed history.

Timeline - Samuel Morse
Biography of Samuel Morse as inventor and artist.

Samuel Morse
Samuel Morse invented the Morse telegraph.

The Story of Samuel Morse
Origin and growth of the ideas which later linked the world with submarine cables and wireless telegraphy.


First Morse telegraph message, 24 May 1844

Crooke and Wheatstone - Telegraphy
William F. Cooke and Charles Wheatstone were two physicists who worked together in Great Britain. The Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph was patented in 1837, using the principle of electromagnetism. Samuel F.B. Morse, an American inventor and painter developed another version of a telegraph at around the same time, called the Morse Telegraph.

Creed Telegraph System
Canadian, Fredick Creed invented a way to convert morse code to text in 1900 called the Creed Telegraph System.

Stock Tickers
According to the Stock Ticker Company of Kalamazoo, MI, "In 1867, Mr. Edward A. Calahan of the American Telegraph Company invented the first stock telegraph printing instrument. It was his idea at the time that prices might be furnished through some form of telegraphy. The distinct sound of this telegraph printing instrument eventually earned it the name of stock ticker." Thomas Edison's first successful invention was an improved stock ticker called the "Universal Stock Printer".

Optical Telegraphy
The first telegraph was invented by Claude Chappe - this system was visual and used semaphore - a flag alphabet. The optical telegraph was replaced by the electric telegraph described above.


History

Developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Samuel Morse (1791-1872) and other inventors, the telegraph revolutionized long-distance communication. The telegraph eliminated dependence on time and distance by connecting people through electricity and code.

Samuel Morse gets the credits for the invention of the telegraph but he is not the only one who worked on this new technology. Samuel Morse made the first demonstration of a single wire telegraph system in 1837. This was a new communication system that transmitted electric signals over wires, which were then translated into a coded message. Alfred Vail saw this demonstration and became fascinated with this technology. He wanted to improve the design and the technology itself. He than worked with Morse and created the Morse-Vail telegraph key.

The first Morse keys arrived at the very beginning of the Morse telegraph system in 1844. A few weeks before the demonstration of the first line between Washington and Baltimore in the USA, Vail used a system of opening and closing the sircuit using a simple switch. Vail described the operation of the device saying that it worked “in much the same manner as a key closes a door”. He built a very simple device with two contacts that needed to be pushed together to close the circuit. It was made using “springy” brass and was mounted on a wooden base. He called the device a “Correspondent”, a name that had been used for earlier sending devices. This key was used for the first demonstration, but within six months he had developed a new type of key using a lever and a fulcrum, and this same format is used for manual keys today. The name given to the new key was the “Lever Correspondent” reflecting its construction and the previous name for these keys.

Earliest idea of Samuel Morse for the code was a very complicated system, allocating numbers for each word, and having a codebook to look up each word according to the number which had been sent. Vail had the idea to improve the code and find a more efficient way.

The new code was made up of a set of “dots and dashes” that represented letters and numbers. Vail read thousands of newspapers to see the letter frequency and find out which letters of the English alphabet were used the most. The letter “E” was the most used letter, hence it got the simplest code, a dot, while those letters that were used infrequently, such as the letter “Q”, got a longer code.

Initially, the code, when transmitted over the telegraph system, was rendered as marks on a piece of paper that the telegraph operator would then translate back into English. Rather quickly, however, it became apparent that the operators were able to hear and understand the code just by listening to the clicking of the receiver, so the paper was replaced by a receiver that created more pronounced beeping sounds.

Morse patents the invention of the telegraph on June 20th, 1840. The patent details both codes. Vail’s name is not in the patent, so Morse gets all the credits.


Watch the video: The Morse Code (September 2022).

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