Before the invention of the electric telegraph, ancient civilisations used drum beats or smoke signals to exchange information. In the early 1790s, the semaphore method was used for transmission of information. In this method hilltop stations were used. Each station had large moveable arms to signal letters and numbers and two telescopes to view the other stations. But all these methods had their limitations. Unfavourable weather conditions and anything that hindered visibility posed major problems.
A regular and reliable method was required to make long distance communication workable. In 1826, optical telegraph lines were operated in Europe and some parts of the United States.
It was in 1832 that Samuel FB Morse, a professor of Arts and Design at New York University conceived the idea of electromagnetic telegraph.
The term ‘Telegraph‘ is derived from the Greek words ‘tele’ meaning ‘far’ and ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write’.
In 1835, Morse proved that wire could transmit signals. The Morse Code was invented when pulses of current were used to deflect an electromagnet, which in turn moved a marker to produce written codes on a strip of paper. The next year it was modified to emboss the paper with dots and dashes.
In 1837, the ‘Telegraph’ was invented, when Morse transmitted over 1700 feet of wire wrapped around in his classroom. He then filed a patent application. After forming a company around his telegraph invention with Alfred Vail and Leonard Gale, Morse gave a public demonstration of his invention in 1838.
But was only in 1842, after the Members of Congress witnessed the sending and receiving of messages, that they gave $30,000 to build a telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington.
Finally on June 10, 1842, the first Telegraph link between Chicago and New York was established.
Other important events that took place on June 10 over the years are:
1720: The first paste-style mustard is marketed by Mrs Clements in England.
1752: To demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning, Benjamin Franklin flies a kite during a thunderstorm. When lightning strikes the kite, he collects a charge in a Leyden jar.
1760: The first effective law regulating the practice of medicine is passed in New York.
1793: The first public zoo in Paris opens.
1829: The first boat race between Oxford and Cambridge University takes place.
1846: An English patent on a rubber tyre is taken by Robert Thomson.
1847: The first edition of The Chicago Tribune was published on this day.
1902: H F Callahan granted the patent for window envelope.
1916: The Great Arab Revolt against the ruling Ottoman Turks started today.
1939: The famous Barney Bear of MGM Cartoon debuts.
1943: The ball point pen was patented by Laszio Biro, who invented it in 1938, when he was a journalist in Budapest, Hungary.
1946: The Italian Republic was established on this day.
1947: The first automobile of Saab produced.
1955: India’s well-known badminton player, Prakash Padukone was born on this day.
1965: Famous actress, Elizabeth Hurley is born.
1966: Reverse tapes used for the first time when the Beatles record ‘Rain’.
1966: The famous MIG airplanes are designed for the first time in India in Nashik at the Ozar Airport.
1969: With the help from UN, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt end the ‘6-Day War’.
1977: The first home computers Apple II are made available in the market for sale when Apple computer ships them.
Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala