Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Early Telephone and Telegraph

As an invention, the telephone originated in an effort to improve and extend the telegraph, not to replace it. (Starr p.193)

In the 1860’s and 1870’s their were many different inventors and promoters trying to come up with new ways to improve the telegraph, since it was a pretty rough form of communication and only people who knew Morse code would be able to understand the messages. So small boxes with switches were placed in people’s homes and allowed them to call for the police or firefighters with the press of a button. This was an improvement, but still crude. William Orton who was Western Unions president at this time raised capital for his growing business by way of stock tickers and relative information. With this new capital, he was able to finance new ways to improve the telegraph, such as the Duplex or Quadruplex which were improvements to the telegraph that allowed two messages to be sent in opposite directions at the same time. As time went on many inventors were trying to figure out a “harmonic” telegraph, which would carry different tones and many different messages all at once. In trying to invent this, the telephone was created. Although to us the telephone seems much better in every way then the telegraph, it was not scene that way back then. This was because at the time, the telegraph seemed to meet the needs of communication. At the time the early telephone had limited range and was cumbersome and produced no written record of conversations, but the early telegraph faced these obstacles as well.

Turning the telephone from a novelty into a network meant putting an infant up against a giant (Starr p195)
The Picture above is of an early telephone.


At 9:25 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post. Good discussion.
Break up your long paragraph in shorter ones.

The telegraph still had its advantages over the telephone and continued to be a profitable rival for years, especially for business and long distance. If you look at the popularity of text messaging and emailing you can see why the telegraph was so important, especially for business applications and the news.


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