Dit dit dit da dit – The first Morse Telegram

The first public telegram sent in America by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1844

On May 24th 1844 the very first Morse telegram went over the line. Samuel Morse and his colleague Alfred Vail knew that the very first phrase to be sent with the new telecommunication medium was to be remembered. So what should they transmit? Morse came up with a quote from the bible, certainly well chosen for an historic occasion like this:

“What God had wrought”

sent by Morse in Washington to Alfred Vail at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad “outer depot” in Baltimore. The message is a Bible verse from Numbers 23:23, chosen for Morse by Annie Ellsworth, daughter of the Governor of Connecticut. The original paper tape received by Vail in Baltimore is on display in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

At yovisto academic search engine you might find out more about Alfred Vail as ‘The Man behind the Morse Code’:

Beginning in 1836, Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred Vail developed an electric telegraph, which sent pulses of electrical current to control an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph wire. The technology available at the time made it impossible to print characters in a readable form, so the inventors had to devise an alternate means of communication. Morse and Vail`s initial telegraph, which first went into operation in 1844, made indentations on a paper tape when an electrical current was transmitted. Morse`s original telegraph receiver used a mechanical clockwork to move a paper tape. When an electrical current was received, an electromagnet engaged an armature that pushed a stylus onto the moving paper tape, making an indentation on the tape.

When the current was interrupted, the electromagnet retracted the stylus, and that portion of the moving tape remained unmarked. The Morse code was developed so that operators could translate the indentations marked on the paper tape into text messages. In his earliest code, Morse had planned to only transmit numerals, and use a dictionary to look up each word according to the number which had been sent. However, the code was soon expanded to include letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally. The shorter marks were called “dots”, and the longer ones “dashes”, and the letters most commonly used in the English language were assigned the shortest sequences.

Read more about Morse and his telegraph in:


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