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Drawing of a Morse telegraph

The First Telecommunication

On January 6, 1838, Samuel Morse gave the first public demonstration of the electric telegraph at New Jersey’s Speedwell Iron Works. The message, “a patient waiter is no loser”, tapped in code along two miles of cotton-covered wire, capped one of the most important days of Morse’s life. Although not yet a large public demonstration, it took place in front of his financial backer and would eventually lead to greater, reliable funding in the future.

Just over 10 years before, Morse, a gifted portrait painter, had learned about his wife’s illness in a message carried to him on horseback, the long distance “express” system of the day.

Samuel Morse self-portrait
Samuel Morse self-portrait… in oils. Not your 2024 selfie!

He returned home, devastated to find she had died and already been buried.

The tragedy changed the direction of his life, spurring him on to find a faster way of relaying news. With money from his painting efforts and those of friends and backers, Morse mastered much science and worked through many experiments to reach the little demonstration on this day in New Jersey. In addition to mastering this application of electromagnetics and producing an inexpensive instrument, he had also recently solved the problem of how to strengthen telegraphic signals over long distances.

Patent office drawing of Morse telegraph application.
Patent office drawing of Morse telegraph application.

This moment marked the outset of immediate long distance telecommunications. The invention of the telegraph and its proliferation is generally recognized as the next great historic milestone in communication since the Gutenberg’s invention of mechanical printing and moveable type 400 years earlier.


Wonder how a Morse coded message looks?
…. . .-.. .-.. — / ..-. .-. — — / – …. . / .-. — -… . .-. – .- / -… — -. -.. .- .-. / ..-. — ..- -. -.. .- – .. — -. / –… …– / … -.-


Morse coded message!


Hello from The Roberta Bondar Foundation
Best Regards
[End of Transmission]



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