I bet you’re wondering what Morse code and
the telegraph are, huh? Well read on to find out!
telegraph was a very popular way to send messages before the invention
of the telephone. The telegraph was the first invention that used wires
and electric current to send messages.
Before the electrical
telegraph, there was the optical (by sight) telegraph. Two examples of
an optical telegraph are smoke signals and ship flags. The electrical telegraph was a very important part of
communication between the mid-1800’s and mid-1900’s.
F. B. Morse is given credit for being the first inventor to make a
practical telegraph. In 1832, Samuel Morse (1791-1872) thought
about creating an electromagnetic telegraph while returning home to the
United States from Europe on a ship. Other people were also working on
their own ideas for telegraphs. Morse
came up with the idea of using an electromagnet. An electromagnet
has an iron center that briefly becomes magnetized when electricity
flows through a wire wrapped around it. In 1840, along with his
assistant Alfred Vail, Morse patented a system using “keyed and
sounded.” By turning off and on the electricity with a “key” or
switch at one end, a clicking noise was made at the other end or
sounder.” This clicking noise was a strip of metal clanking against
the magnetized wire. Dots and dashes were printed on a small strip of
paper. The pattern of these sounds or marks made words and “Morse
code” was developed.
code is a code that is made up of dots, dashes, and spaces. They
represent the alphabet and the numerals from 1 to 10. If you are
listening, a short sound (a quick click) is called a dit; a long sound
is a dah (which keeps going for about two seconds). When written, a dot
is a dit and a dash is a dah. The most used letters are the easiest to
type. For example, the letter E is one dot and a T is one dash.
A message sent over wires stretched across land was called a telegram.
A message was called a cablegram, or simply a cable, if it
was sent through cables laid underwater. To translate your
messages in Morse code visit our Morse
Code Translator page.
A message sent over wires stretched across land was called a telegram. A message was called a cablegram, or simply a cable, if it was sent through cables laid underwater. To translate your messages in Morse code visit our Morse Code Translator page.
first message sent on telegraph wires between cities was, “What hath
God wrought!” sent on May 24, 1844 from Washington DC to Baltimore.
Today, the telegraph and Morse code are rarely used. They've been replaced by the telephone, e-mail, and other forms of communication that can transmit information at a faster rate. There are some telegraph services that still exist, but they send messages in a different manner. Now the messages are sent using computers, and the messages are sent over fiber-optic cable, radio, satellites, and other means of transmission.
Samuel F. B. Morse created a code that no one else had. I think that’s pretty special!
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"Morse code." World Book
Online Reference Center. 2005. World Book, Inc. 4 Feb. 2005.
"Optical Telegraph." The FreeDictionary.com. 3 November 2004 <http://encyclopidia.thefreedictionary.com/optical%20telegraph>.
"Telegraph." American Inventors & Inventions. 5 November 2004 <http://www.150.si.edu/150trav/remember/r819.htm>.
Photographs of Samuel Morse and telegraph key have been released into the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.
Copyrighted clip art of Morse code keys from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.