Start Date
Place
Notes
Source
1787
France
Working model of a telegraph is demonstrated
by M Lammond in Paris.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2008
1795
Spain
Francisco Salva connects with an experimental
electric telegraph royal palaces in Madrid and
Aranjuez (ca. 40 kms).
http://www.ciolek.com/GLOBAL/1000.html#1
000s June 2010
1844
US
Samuel F. B. Morse demonstrates his telegraph
by sending a message to Baltimore from the
chambers of the Supreme Court in Washington
DC. The message, What hath God wrought?
marks the beginning of a new era in
communication.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA99/grogan/thes
is/Timeline2.html July 2009
Oct 1847
Germany
The German Company Siemens was founded.
Johann Georg Halske and Werner von Siemens
formed their own company, Telegraphen-
Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske to develop a
new design for the Wheatstone telegraph.
http://timelines.ws March 2009
1848
US
There were 2,000 miles of telegraph line in US.
http://www.caslon.com August 2006
1850
US
12,000 miles of telegraph line in US.
http://www.caslon.com September 2007
1852
US
23,000 miles of telegraph line in US.
http://www.caslon.com September 2007
1854
US
Cyrus Field organizes the New York,
Newfoundland, and London Electric Telegraph
Company with the intention of laying an Atlantic
Cable.
http://www.historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/
index.php January 2009
1855
UK
David Edward Hughes invents the first perfected
mechanism for printing telegraph messages,
using a keyboard in which each key causes the
corresponding letter to be printed at a distant
receiver.
http://www.historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/
index.php July 2009
1856
International
The Atlantic Telegraph Company is formed by
Cyrus Field in the United States and Charles
Bright, John Brett, and Jacob Brett in England.
http://www.historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/
index.php September 2009
1862
US
32,000 miles of telegraph line in US.
http://www.caslon.com January 2008
1862
US
There were an estimated 5 million telegrams sent
in the US.
http://www.caslon.com October 2006
1863
UK
Electric Telegraph Act [in UK] made disclosure of
messages an offence (20), vesting 'property'
rights in telegraphic messages in the Postmaster
General (21) and allowing the state to take total
control over telegraph services 'where, in the
Opinion of One of Her Majesty's Principal
Secretaries of State, an Emergency has arisen in
which it is expedient for the Public Service that
Her Majesty's Government should have Control
over the Transmission of Messages by the
Company's Telegraphs' (49).
http://www.terramedia.co.uk February 2008
1865
International
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
was established in Paris at the first International
Telegraph Convention on 17 May.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk July 2009
1866
US
Western Union absorbs US Telegraph, American
Telegraph and other major US rivals (network is
aggregate 37,000 miles)
http://www.caslon.com January 2008
1867
UK
At this stage, telegraphy had reached a sort of
halfway house. Reception was now automatic, but
sending relied on an operator. Obviously a human
operator is limited in both speed and accuracy.
An operator might be able to transmit at a
maximum speed for a short while, but they cannot
keep up the pace without making mistakes. Even
the fastest operator is usually slower than the
maximum speed of the line. So on expensive
lines - especially transatlantic lines - some sort of
automatic transmission would be more
economic. The earliest practical system was
invented by Wheatstone in 1867. First of all the
message was punched by an operator into
perforated tape. The original Wheatstone
perforator was entirely mechanical. There was a
separate key for a dot, space and a dash. The
keys were hit with rubber tipped mallets rather
like playing a xylophone. This was called the Stick
Punch.
http://www.samhallas.co.uk/telhist1/telehist2.
htm November 2010
1867
UK
The UK parliamentary Select Committee,
preparing for 1868 Electric Telegraphy Act,
recommended 'that it is not desirable that the
transmission of messages for the public should
become a legal monopoly of the Post Office'.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2006
1868
UK
The Telegraph Act (31&32 Vict c.73)
empowered the British Post Office to establish or
acquire telegraph operations in the public
interest wherever private enterprises are not
providing services. It effectively paved the way for
a government monopoly ('exclusive privilege') in
the telegram service, with exemptions for
railways, canal and certain other companies.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2006
1869
UK
UK Telegraph Act defines telegraph as "any
apparatus for transmitting messages or other
communications by means of electric signals."
http://www.caslon.com September 2007
1870
UK
7.1 million Telegrams were sent in UK.
http://www.caslon.com January 2008
1874
France
The Baudot printing telegraph was invented by
Emile Baudot of the French telegraph service in
1874. Today it would be called a synchronous
time division multiplex system. It used certain
printing details from the Hughes instrument, a
distributor invented by Bernard Meyer in 1871,
and the five unit code devised by Gauss and
Weber. Baudot combined these, together with
original ideas of his own, to produce the final
multiplex system.
http://www.samhallas.co.uk/telhist1/telehist2.
htm November 2007
1877
US
The Western Union absorbed the Atlantic and
Pacific Telegraph Company in 1877 and later the
National Union Telegraph Company.
Innis, Bias, P. 176
21 Sep 1883
Brazil
The first direct US-Brazil telegraph connection
was made.
http://timelines.ws June 2011
1897
UK
In 1897 there was a young telegraph operator
with the South American Telegraph and Cable
Company in Chile. He decided that there had to
be some better way of making perforated tape
than playing a xylophone. Fired with enthusiasm,
he threw up his job and set sail for Britain
determined to put his ideas into practice. He
started work in a garden shed in a suburb of
Glasgow. With the aid of an old typewriter,
bought for 15 shillings (75 pence) in the
Sauchiehall Street market, his ideas began to
take shape. The young telegraph operator's
name was Frederick George Creed. His
machine was operated by compressed air and
the first order for a quantity of 12 came from the
British Post Office in 1902. Next, Creed
produced a receiving perforator, what we now
call a reperforator. From the received signal it
produced a tape identical to the transmitting
tape. Then he designed a printer that took the
tape and printed plain characters on a paper
tape. And so the Creed high speed automatic
printing telegraph was born. It could run at the
astonishing speed of 200 words per minute.
http://www.samhallas.co.uk/telhist1/telehist2.
htm November 2010
1898
International
World total of working telegraph wire: near three
million miles.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu October
2009
1899
US
Western Union [telegraph] boasts nearly one
million miles of wire, 22,285 offices.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
1907
International
Estimated 1,027,348 miles of land
telecommunications lines across the globe.
http://www.caslon.com August 2006
1928
International
Teletypewriters and teleprinters come into limited
use in Britain, Germany and the US.
http://www.warbaby.com/FG_test/Timeline.ht
ml November 2010
1929
US
Telegraph ticker sends 500 characters per
minute.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
1951
US
As in England the telegraph destroyed the
monopoly of political centres and contributed, in
destroying political power, to the outbreak of the
Civil War. Technological development had its
effects in the new journalism in England and on
the Continent. The varying effects of
technological change spreading from the United
States destroyed the unity of Europe and
contributed to the outbreak of the First World
War.
Innis, Bias of Communication, P. 59 (1951)
1952
International
Importance of telegraph in Europe compared to
telephone in the US - a variety of languages
emphasizes resort to the telegraph and to the
Morse Code as an international device to
transcend language. Large English-speaking
population in North America facilitates spread of
telephone with little problem of language
variations. Newspapers in England in provinces
insisted on government control of telegraph, and
becoming entrenched in telegraph and
advertising, opposed radio as possible
encroachment which brought government
ownership of BBC whereas insistence on
freedom of speech in US facilitated spread of
broadcasting under private control supported by
telegraph and telephone
Innis, Idea File, 4-23 (1952)
1960
International
The telegraph ... is not the mechanization of
writing but the electrification of writing.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 288
(1960)
1964
International
In the same year, 1844, then, that men were
playing chess and lotteries on the first American
telegraph, Soren Kierkegaard published The
Concept of Dread. The Age of Anxiety had
begun. For with the telegraph, man had initiated
that outering or extension of his central nervous
system that is now approaching an extension of
consciousness with satellite broadcasting.. To
put one's nerves outside, and one's physical
organs inside the nervous system, or the brain, it
to initiate a situation - if not a concept - of dread
McLuhan, Understanding Media, P. 252
(1964)
1964
International
The tendency of electric media is to create a kind
of organic interdependence among all the
institutions of society, emphasizing De Chardin's
view that the discovery of electromagnetism is to
be regarded as 'a prodigious biological event.' If
political and commercial institutions take on a
biological character by means of electric
communications, it is also common now for
biologists like Hans Selye to think of the physical
organism as a communication network:
'Hormone is a specific chemical messenger-
substance, made by an endocrine gland and
secreted into the blood, to regulate and
coordinate the functions of distant organs.'
McLuhan,Understanding Media (1964)
Telegraphy Timeline
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