Telegraphy development

History of telegraphy in Europe

The ancient telegraph comprised of drums, mirrors that reflected light and smoke signals. Through several attempts scientists invented a way of conveying messages through a telegraph (Brock 34). The earliest scientists Webster’s defined a telegraph as an equipment or apparatus used in communication at a distance by sending coded signals (Maximilian 12). Samuel Morse came up with the SOS code that is still in use till today (Lewis 45).

He identified this when he went for studies in Europe and on his return he discovered it while communicating with fellow passengers on electricity in the year 1832. He built his first experiment in the year 1843, between Washington and Baltimore, after obtaining a loan from the Congress. It enabled him to send his first message to Chappes system which was “what hath God wrought.”Chappes replied and told him the following “if you succeed you will bask in glory (Gabler 22).”

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Bain Alexander and the Royal House made the introduction of the arrival of the patent between 1846 and 1849. This was a more advanced patent since it could send and receive printed messages by using a keyboard at both ends. It was also faster than Morse invention. Although both telegraphs had the same idea of sending messages, the new model used a discolored paper treated with chemicals to give a printed text.

Around 1851 ten different telegraph firms were established in New York. It created much competition among the firms in different cities in Europe. The competition grew stiff that the companies started losing messages without taking responsibility. This led to integration of all the competing companies to form a consolidated industry. Integration and merging of firms took place most between 1853 and 1857 (Maximilian 24).

This led to the formation and signing of the “treaty of six nations” it provided for the six large competing firms to merge together (Brock 47). The last face of integration took place between 1857 and 1866. This is when only two main firms remained namely the American Telegraph Company and the Western Union.

The Western union had an advantage over the competing firm leading to the federal government to respond by introducing legislation bills (Gabler 28). Most of the bills were opposed by the Western Union and the few that passed only helped the Western industry to monopolize the market. The arrival of Jay Gould with his Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph company in 1874 posed great danger to the Western (Lewis 49).

This made the Western Union agree to join hands together with the new company in 1881. A more dangerous competitor arrived in 1880s. This is the Postal Telegraph Company that was headed by John Mackey. He made a network through buying of less economic firms and merging together to form a network with a wide economic scale to create competition against the Western Union although it did not bore much fruits (Maximilian 36).

Transition from Telegraph to Telephone

A transition is a turning point from one face to another. Telegraphs were invented long a way in 1830s. They served people while developing from stage to stage until in 1876 when Alexander Graham introduced the new technology of the bell patents (telephone). It was largely referred to as the talking telegraph (Gabler 36).

The arrival of the new technology posed a lot of pressure on the telegraph owners by over talking through their market. This found the Western Union at cross roads. They had to decide on investing or continue getting more profit from the then flourishing telegraph business. The management made a wrong choice to stick on their telegraph mission without focusing ahead (Brock 56).

The Alexander Graham’s taking telegraph took over the local communication rating up to 97%. This was after the long telephone lines and posts were erected throughout the nation It had had now defeated the telegraph in the local competition (Lewis, 52). The same trend was transferred to the international market where the talking telegraph was highly appreciated by people of all walks of life.

Development time frame

1837Wheatstone and cooke patent telegraph in England
1838Electro-magnetic Telegraph patent by Morse approved
1843A message sent from Washington to Baltimore for the first time
1846First Telegraph line from New York to Washington completed
Approval of printing telegraph houses
1848Press formed telegraph traffic
1849Approval of Bain’s electro-chemical
1851Sibley Hiram associates combine with Mississippi valley and New York to form Western Union

Telegraph used to coordinate trains first

1857Six nation treaty signed
1859Transat tic cable laid to Ireland and Valencia from Newfoundland
1861Completion of Transatlantic Telegraph (1)
1866Transatlantic is laid (1)successfully
Western Union merged together with remaining rivals
1867Inauguration of stock ticker
1870Money order services introduced
1876Bell patents by Alexander Graham, telephone
1908Western Union controlled by AT&T
1924Tele type system offered by AT&T
1926Formation of stock tickers from San Francisco to New York
1930500 words could be printed using high speed tickers
1945Merging of Postal Telegraph Company and Western Union
1962Western Union provided telex for printing internationally
1974Westar satellites put in place by Western Union
1988Western Telecommunication changed to Western Union Cooperation, the company focused on money transfer and loan services


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