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SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
American businessman, who initiated, organised and financed the first successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. It made the first transmission, between Europe and America, on August 16, 1858. In 1854, after laying a 400 mile telegraph cable in Canada, the American Telegraph Company was established, and in 1857 the Atlantic Telegraph Company began laying the first telegraph cable. At the rate of two minutes per character the first telegraph message took over seventeen hours to transmit. Attempts to speed up the transmission rate by increasing the voltage resulted in the breakdown of the cable after three weeks service. In 1865 a second attempt was made with much-improved material and the SS Great Eastern of Brunel laid a new cable between Ireland and Newfoundland. The transmission speed was eighty times faster than the 1858 cable and on July 28, 1866, it was put into service.
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