SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Wheatstone telegraph. Historical artwork of Sir Charles Wheatstone's alphabetical telegraph. This was the first practical telegraph system to be made available to the public. Unlike earlier telegraphs, the system did not require knowledge of Morse code. The user sent each letter of their message by holding down the relevant button and cranking the handle. Up to 15 words per minute were possible. Wheatstone patented a five-needle telegraph in 1837 with William Fothergill Cooke. This single-needle refinement was used by the Universal Telegraph Company established in 1860. The company provided each subscriber with a private line, as with the telephone today.
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