<- Virtual Exhibitions in Informatics


Charles Wheatstone and Sir William Fothergill Cooke created the first commercial electrical telegraph. It used the deflection of needles to represent messages and started operating over about 20 kilometres of the Great Western Railway in the year 1839. Both Wheatstone and Cooke viewed their device as "an improvement to the electromagnetic telegraph" not as a new device.

Another developer was Samuel Morse who independently developed a version of the electrical telegraph that he demonstrated in the year 1837 without any success. Together with Alfred Vail they developed a telegraph terminal that integrated a logging device for recording messages to paper tape. This was demonstrated successfully over about five kilometres one year later. In 1844 they presented the same telegraph over a distance of 64 kilometres between Washington, DC and Baltimore. The patented invention proved lucrative and by 1851 telegraph lines in the United States spanned over about 32,000 kilometres. Alexander Bell invented the conventional telephone in 1857. Although in 1849 Antonio Meucci invented a device that allowed the electrical tranmission of voice over a line. Meucci's device depended upon the electrophonic effect and was of little practical value because it required users to place the receiver in their mouth to “hear” what was being said.