Claude Chappe, French engineer

Claude Chappe, French engineer

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Claude Chappe (1763-1805), inventor of mechanical- optical telegraphy. Chappe was a French engineer and cleric. His rise to fame came during the French Revolution when he looked at ways to improve signalling for military use. Chappe established a chain of 22 tower stations spanning the 193-kilometer stretch from Paris to Lille. Messages were transmitted between the stations using semaphore arms. A message could be sent between the two cities in under 6 minutes, rather than taking 30 hours by courier on horseback. His invention proved successful even after electrical telegraphy was introduced and he was appointed ingnieur-telegraphe in 1793.

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