Claude Chappe, French engineer

Claude Chappe, French engineer

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Credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Claude Chappe (1763-1805) talking to a kneeling worker. 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-kilometre 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 six minutes, rather than taking 30 hours by courier on horseback. His invention proved successful even after electrical telegraphy was introduced and he was appointed ingenieur- telegraphe in 1793.

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