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What is Telegraph? – History, Invented, Work, and More

What is Telegraph?

The telegraph is an electrical device capable of transmitting text messages. For this, it uses coding, utilizing Morse code, in electrically emitted signals.

Through the release and reception of electrical signals, the system proposed by the telegraph base on the transmission of text messages. The language used telegraphically is the Morse code, which transmits different lines of chosen words character by character through a certain encoding.

The transmissibility of these messages carries out by utilizing sound waves, radio communication, or utilizing cable connections. These messages consisted of the emission of long electric waves (represented in code with a line) and short (represented by a dot).

History of the Telegraph


The logistics required for the first telegraph connections consisted of long stretches of iron or steel wire. There were different embryonic tests of what the system would later be in different parts of Europe.

They experimented with the variation or movement that objects experienced when receiving an electrical discharge of different intensities in all of them. However, none of these proposals was commercially successful or in terms of scientific research.

Who and When was the Telegraph Invented?

However, it not pend 1844 the invention of the telegraph and, consequently, the sending of the first telegram formally consider.

The North American Samuel Finley Beese Morse was the developer of the alphabet with the same name, who collaborated with different contemporary scientists and created the first transmission devices.

Rapidly, the system evolved, from the initial short-distance connections to the interconnection of vast territories.

In a few decades, countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom had strong telegraph infrastructures. And exponentially improved their communications.

How does the Telegraph Work?

It was possible to establish contact through a previously arranged metallic cable by sending different downloads following this code. And subsequently translating said signals alphabetically following the same code.

This is how the first concepts that would later give rise to the telegraph apparatus originated. Initially, the transmissions were not capable of covering spectra of more than a few tens of kilometres.

This problem was solved with the advances in energy that occurred throughout the 20th century, such as continuous power generators (the case of the Volta battery among them) or the installation of electrical repeaters every certain distance.

On the other hand, the action necessary to emit said signal carries out by pressing a switch or switch. Generally, this was made up of an electromagnet.

Evolution of the Telegraph


1. Hughes Telegraph

It needs to encode the text in dots and dashes to transmit. And decode it before writing the telegram led to the development of other types of telegraphy that performed these tasks automatically. This telegraph is based on two wheels that contain all the symbols or characters that can transmit and rotate, synchronized, at the same speed. The radio operator presses the appropriate key and, when the wheel containing the characters is in the correct position, the apparatus transmits a pulse to the line.

On the receiver, an electromagnetic paper tape against the wheel containing the fonts. These wheels move to utilize a clockwork mechanism with a weight or hydraulic motor, depending on the case. At the beginning of the day, a synchronization protocol starts, transmitting a message designed for this purpose. The transmission speed was lower than that of the Morse system and depended on the radio operator. Since an experienced one could send several characters in one turn of the wheel.

2. Baudot’s Telegraph

It is an evolution of Huygens’. It bases on the encoding of characters not in the position of a single pulse but in five-time intervals in which a pulse could or could not transmit. Thus, we had a five-bit binary code that allowed 31 characters to transmit, in addition to the idle state.

It also uses two character banks, with their corresponding letter blank and digits blank. It is much faster than the Huygens telegraph since, in addition to needing only 5 slots compared to one per character, Baudot refined the magnetic circuits of the electromagnets. And also, it reducing parasitic self-inductions as much as possible, allowing shorter pulses to use.


It was the first medium that had rapidity in communications, leaving aside geographical distances to achieve instant communication. It was the basis of all subsequent evolution of telecommunications.

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