John Watkins Brett, English telegraph engineer

John Watkins Brett, English telegraph engineer

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Caption: John Watkins Brett (1805-1863). 1868 illustration of the English art collector and telegraph engineer John Watkins Brett. Brett is considered the founder of the submarine telegraph. With his younger brother Jacob, he developed the idea of telegraphy using submerged cables across the Atlantic to America. He sold part of his art collection to raise finance, but the project was too ambitious. The brothers formed the Submarine Telegraph Company to lay a cable between Dover and Calais in 1850. It failed almost immediately due to design and manufacturing problems, but they established a permanent link in 1851. In 1856 Brett helped to found the Atlantic Telegraph Company which laid the first transatlantic cable, but this failed after a few weeks. Unfortunately, Brett did not live to see the first successful transatlantic cable of 1866.

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