Many great inventions have helped pave the way for new technology to exist in our world. In the past 20 years, we have seen a huge tech bubble burst with gadgets from cell phones to computers that fit in one hand. We are fascinated with creating new ways to communicate, and this includes working to perfect things we already have to make them more efficient and useful. Take the Telegraph for example. It’s an invention that has had many forms and uses. It helped transform the way wars are fought, how the media got their news out to the people, and how our government interacts with the rest of the world. But how could a device that seems so ancient today have made such a great impact on the world? How did the telegraph work exactly?
How did the telegraph work and what was it used for?
Earlier versions of the telegraph included a non-electric prototype which used a visual system to communicate, one that used gold electrodes to produce gases that were interpreted by the receiving party, and another that burned dots and dashes onto chemical paper to show the coded message. All of these were different in their own right, but had a common use among them – communicating in Code.
Code communication was the primary way of getting news out to soldiers in the field from the base, or communicating within our government. Morse Code was a method invented by Samuel Morse in 1836, around the same time he was developing the more stable telegraph. It used a series of dashes and dots to correspond with letters in the alphabet. By using methods like Morse code, we are able to communicate easily over very long distances. Morse code is used today primarily because the dots and dashes can survive the interference and radio static much better than a human voice. The message can be transmitted and deciphered by someone without the use of any special equipment, so Morse code has become one of the most popular ways to transmit important information quickly.
Why was the telegraph so revolutionary?
The telegraph made it possible to communicate quickly at any time. By getting information out to the appropriate parties, people have saved lives, changed wars, and grown to rely more on technology to perform important tasks. The telegraph accomplished a lot of “firsts” in its time as well. It was the first widely-used electronic communication device, having been adopted by the military and its allies in other nations.
Using the first telecommunication line from Baltimore to Washington D.C., the first message delivered was the nomination of Henry Clay to the Whig Party in 1844. As the first invention to broadcast radio waves, or Hertzian Waves, the telegraph made its mark on history and also led to other inventions like the radio, television, and more. Without the telegraph and the inventors surrounding its growth, the technological world we know today may not exist as we know it.
Although the telegraph has been changed to meet our growing needs and technology over time, what we cannot ignore is the important role it has played in the ever-changing world we live in – even today.