Samuel F.B. Morse and Telegraphy
American portrait artist Samuel F.B. Morse developed the technology for electrical telegraphy in the 1830s, the first instantaneous form of communication. Using a key to hold open an electrical circuit for longer or shorter periods, an operator would tap out a message in a code composed of dots and dashes. Public demonstrations of the equipment were made in February 1838, but it was necessary for Morse to secure financial backing to build the first telegraph line to carry the signal over distance. In 1843, Congress appropriated the funds for a 37-mile line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. After underground telegraph wires proved unsuccessful, Morse switched to pole wires and, on May 24, 1844, before a crowd of dignitaries in the chambers of the Supreme Court, Morse tapped out the message, ‘What hath God wrought?’ to an associate waiting in Baltimore.

Image: Library of Congress