The history of the telegraph is a long one. Claude Chappe invented the first non-electric telegraph in 1794.
This telegraph worked depending on the line of light, and was called the optical telegraph.
Although historically Samuel Morse has been credited with building the telegraph, he was actually the one that perfected it from a long line of inventors before him.
Starting from 1809 when a very basic model of a telegraph was built in Bavaria, and then later in 1828 in America, the telegraph went through many changes since electromagnetism was discovered.
Then in 1830 an American, Joseph Henry showed how an electric current, which was activated by an electromagnetic bell, could be sent over a mile of wire.
Samuel Morse improved Henry’s invention in 1835 when he showed that pulses of current that could produce written codes when the signal is transmitted through a wire.
These written codes were called Morse code and Samuel Morse’s invention made it possible to communicate through Morse code.
Through the telegraph, a code of long and short pulses of electric current are sent. Each of these pulses represents a letter. This was the Morse code.
For example, “K” was written as a ‘dash-dot-dash’, “E” was written as a ‘dot’, “V” was written as a ‘dot-dot-dot-dash’, and “W” was written as a ‘dot-dash-dash’. The whole alphabet and letters were converted into dots and dashes like this.
A message sent through a telegraph in this fashion was called a “telegram”.
For the telegraph to be able to transmit signals from one place to another, especially across continents and seas, cables are needed.
These cables act as mediums of carrying the telegram (message) from Point A to Point B.
When it was built and functioning, the telegraph became hugely popular very soon.
At the beginning, the message that was received was printed on a tape, and a trained Morse operator could transmit about 4- to 50 words per minute.
In 1900, a Canadian inventor Fredrick Creed invented the Creed Telegraph System, which allowed the Morse code to be converted into words.
As technology, advanced, automatic transmission was introduced in 1914, and soon many companies in America and around the world started manufacturing telegraphs.
The multiplex telegraph (1913) (were about 8 messages could be sent together over a single wire), teleprinter machines (1925), and the Varioplex (1936) were invented.
In 1959 the Telex was introduced by Western Union which allowed people to dial each other directly through the teleprinter. This was an incredible leap forward.
The journey and fame of the telegraph was soon to be shadowed by the invention of the telephone in 1876.
Ironically, the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was actually trying to improve the telegraph. It was out of this that the telephone was born.
Even though the telegraph continued to advance in technology after the telephone was invented, its success was limited because of the advantage that the telephone had over it.
Nevertheless, thanks to the farsightedness of inventors such as Samuel Morse, and others before and after him, the world got to enjoy the telegraph and improvements on it.