Samuel Morse changed the course of American history by inventing and implementing a telegraph system. This system enabled people to transmit messages almost instantly from one location to another. Through this invention, Morse changed the way that business, newscasting and war were conducted. He also paved the way for newer technologies that would revolutionize America.
Invention of Morse Code
Although many inventors had worked on creating a telegraph, with the idea originating in the early 1700s, Samuel Morse was the first to gain political support from Congress and to create a workable business model for making the telegraph public. He also created a new code, called Morse code, in which each letter in the alphabet is assigned a given pattern of dots and dashes. On May 24, 1844, he sent the first message in Morse code from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, reading "What hath God wrought?"
General Communication Changes
The invention of the telegraph revolutionized communication. In the past, it could take days, weeks or even months for a message to travel from one location to another, either by foot, on horse or by boat. Once the telegraph cables spread across America and the rest of the world in the 1850s, a message could travel from London to New York in a few minutes. In the past, the world seemed to be "divided into isolated regions," according to Elon University School of Communications.
Specific Effects of the Telegraph
Morse's invention changed many areas of American culture. For example, before the telegraph, people were often unable to access news outside of their immediate area. After the telegraph's invention, news could travel between stations extremely quickly. Giving people access to more recent information changed the way that politics and business were conducted. In addition, countries fought wars differently after the invention of the telegraph, since they were able to receive information from the front and send information to other officers relatively quickly. The telegraph had an effect economically as well, since money could be wired long distances through a telegraph.
The long-term effects of the telegraph have been even more obvious in recent years. Newer technologies, such as the telephone and the Internet, are based on the concept of the telegraph. Like the telegraph, they use electricity to transmit information from one location to another, regardless of the distance between the two locations. Although the telegraph is no longer used regularly today, due to the proliferation of these new technologies, it paved the way for more effective long-distance communications within the U.S. and between America and other countries.
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