Claude Chappe, French engineer

Claude Chappe, French engineer

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Claude Chappe (1763-1805), French engineer. Chappe looked at ways to improve signalling for military use in the 1790s. He 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 (mechanical-optical telegraphy). A message could be sent in under 6 minutes, rather than taking 30 hours by courier on horseback. His invention proved successful even after electrical telegraphy was introduced. Artwork from 'Electricite' (1911) by Max de Nansouty, part of the 'Les merveilles de la science' series of 1867-1891 by Louis Figuier.

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