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Other Innovations by Samuel Morse


These images come from the exhibition Information Age: People, Information & Technology at the National Museum of American History.


Samuel Morse's original telegraph transmitter and receiver, 1837. Today's information age began with the telegraph. It was the first instrument to transform information into electrical form and transmit it reliably over long distances. The original Morse telegraph did not use a key and sounder. Instead it was a device designed to print patterns at a distance. The transmitter, in front, had code slugs shaped in hills and valleys. These represented the more familiar dots and dashes of Morse code. These patterns were printed at a distance by the receiver (shown in the rear). It recreated the hills and valleys as the arm was pulled back and forth by an electro-magnet, which was responding to the signals sent by the transmitter. Morse developed a key and sounder for his first commercial telegraph in 1844.

—Smithsonian Photo #89-22161 by Laurie Minor-Penland.



Morse/Vail telegraph key, 1844. This key was used to send the message "What Hath God Wrought" on the experimental line between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.

—Smithsonian Photo by Alfred Harrell.


Morse/Vail telegraph register, 1844. This register was used to receive the message "What Hath God Wrought" on the experimental line between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.

—Smithsonian Photo by Alfred Harrell.



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