Samuel Morse invented the Morse code. It was important since it was the only way to talk to someone, without going and meeting with them face to face, at the time. It was especially helpful to the United States armed forces, since they needed a reliable and quick way to send information about sending backup to somewhere, or to tell someone at the base camp what equipment was needed to bring to a battle.
Samuel never really like school. It wasnít that bad for him in elementary, but when he got into college he really couldnít stand it. He went to college at Yale University. In his classes he was either the good student or the bad student. There were only some topics that he did well at. The only thing that he really liked about college was when the teacher was giving the class a lecture on electricity. Although they were boring once in a while, they were usually very interesting to Samuel. These lectures were very important later in Samuelís life, because they sparked his interest in electricity.
While Samuel Morse attended Yale he took an art class. From the first day of the class, Samuel fell in love with art. One day his art teacher took him aside and told him that he thought that his art was so good that perhaps he should go to a school in London where he could study only art. Morse said that he would like to go if his parents would give him the money to do it. It took Morse a couple of months to convince them to do so, since they didnít think he would be able to make a living as an artist. They finally said yes, and he went.
Inspiration for Invention
In 1818, while Samuel Morse was away in London, he met his wife, Lucretia Walker. Lucretia and Samuel traveled all over the world for Samuel to be able to study art. He was always sending his parents letters telling them about their travels and what he was learning. There was a problem though. His letters took at least four months to get to them, which made it hard for them to communicate with each other.
One day, while Morse was in France, he noticed huge poles with wires running over the poles. At the very end of the poles there was a receiver, and that is where you could receive a message. The place where the message was sent from was called the key. While traveling on a ship, Morse was talking about the poles, and how he thought it worked. A passenger on the ship said "I think the electricity travels through the wires, and comes out on the other end." This gave Samuel an idea. He worked on his contraption for the rest of the voyage. When he got back home from the voyage, he did not work on it as much because he was trying to sell his paintings.
Samuel Morse did not have much luck trying to sell his paintings, however. He always seemed to get a lot of complaints from his customers. He went all over the United States trying to sell his paintings, but he only could get a few customers in each town. His wife, Lucretia, was getting tired of all the traveling so she suggested the maybe he should work on his Morse Code idea. Samuel agreed.
While he was working on it, Morse gained two partners, Alfred Vail and Leonard D. Gale. The three partners together could work on perfecting the Morse code. They put together the first machine in 1842. The way that the Morse code worked was there was a key and a sounder. The key would send the messages, and the sounder would receive the messages. The key would send the messages by tapping down a wooden knob onto a tin strip. That would create electricity through a screw which flowed through a wire connected to the metal strip in the back. When the bolt was hit, it created a sound and the sound traveled through the wire to the sounder. The sounder worked by having a screw that was connected to another piece of tin, and that was where the message from the key came through. It still had to make its way to the megaphone, so it travels through one more wire and then it was there. That is how the first telegraph worked. Below is a chart showing the tappings used for the numbers 1-10 and some letters of the alphabet:
The way that they were able to make the sounds was to either hold down the key for the dahs, and for the dis and dits they would just tap it quickly.
All three partners decided to have a show to explain how the code worked. Samuel hired someone to row him across the New York Harbor to set up two miles of wire. They finally finished, but at midnight the night before the show some fishermen cut the wire because they didnít know what it was for. The next morning people came out to see how the Morse Code worked, and saw that it didnít. People called him a liar.
Samuel Morse was not discouraged. He asked Congress again and again to allow him to demonstrate it again. They finally voted yes, and he was allowed to try it again. In 1844 it was all ready to go. They tried it and this time it worked. The message was sent from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. The message he sent was "What hath God wrought?"
Since Congress knew about the Morse Code, they thought that it would be a good idea for the military to use it in war. They set it up by putting the key at the battle grounds and the receiver at the base camp. The only problem with that was they had to bury the wire, instead of putting it on poles. That was the only place they could put the wire, since it would be blown up if they put it anywhere else. At the battle ground they would have a lieutenant who would be responsible for sending messages back to the base camp. At base camp there would be another lieutenant who would receive the messages, and report them to the right person. Morse Code was not normally used by civilians. It wasnít really possible for civilians to use it because they needed so many set up like in the army, where it was the most popular. It really wasnít intended for use by the average civilian.
From 1844 on Samuel Morse became a more joyful man. The success of the Morse code invention somehow contributed to his paintings being much better, and easier to sell because people knew his name and took more interest in him. Lucretia and Samuel were finally able to own their own home, and they didnít do so much traveling. Samuel died in 1872 at age 81.
You would have never thought that Samuel Morse would have invented something so important considering the start of his life. So when you are talking to someone a long distance away, donít forget that Samuel Morse is the one who contributed to making that possible because Morse Code was the start of long distance communication. It started others thinking about the idea of how to send a message of words and not just beeps. Morse Code is used by some but not many people today, in instances where communication may be difficult. Although communication technology has changed a lot since Morse Code, it is still thought of as one of the great inventions.
Samuel Morse Timeline
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