The story

Was a direct telegraph line between America and Australia ever created?

Was a direct telegraph line between America and Australia ever created?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

After reviewing a source about American-Australian relations pre-WW2, there are a couple of troubles the Americans had with their relationship with Australia (see the excerpt of the source below). My question is was a direct telegraph line from Australia to America ever actually created and, if so, when?


A direct radio telephone service between the United States and Australia was inaugurated on December 20, 1938. There is, however, no direct telegraph service between the two countries. Telegrams either go by radio via Canada or by cable via Canada or Great Britain… Should the United States become involved in war, particularly the Far East, instantaneous communication with Australia would be of the utmost importance. It has been almost three years since the Department first took up with Australia the desire of RCA to establish a direct radiotelegraphic service between the United States and Australia. It is believed the principle objection to the establishment of the about service comes from London.

Excerpts from a memorandum from the Department of State (USA), Division of European Affairs, 8 May 1941 (Source: JCPML/00266/2/34; Presidential Secretary's File-Diplomatic-Australia at Roosevelt Presidential Library):

And your question? your source clearly stated it was created, as a radio telegraphy service, in 1938.
An undersea cable wasn't laid, as the same source states. And by the time telegraph cables were already being replaced by wireless telegraphy services (or radio telegraphy as the Americans called it).
Wikipedia states that the first cable from the US across the Pacific to a point further away than Hawaii was only taken into service in 1991, and that one ran to Japan. See [here].1
This is a nice map of undersea cables. I don't know how complete it is, but it shows indeed no direct cable link between the US mainland and Australia (there appears to be one from Hawaii to Australia).
So no, there is no direct telegraph cable between the US mainland (or indeed anywhere in the Americas) and Austrial and never was.

Was a direct telegraph line between America and Australia ever created? - History

The History of Communication Technology

By Shaun Antonio, [email protected]

The telegraph was the first from of communication that could be sent from a great distance and was a landmark in human history. For the first time man could communicate with another from a great distance changing everything from how wars were fought to how people dated and fell in love. It’s creation, along with the steam engine, was one of the key inventions to the industrial age. Letters took hours, day, and even months to arrive at their destination making most information irrelevant. However, with the advent of the telegraph, messages were transmitted instantaneously, and as it became ever more efficient the telegraph was able to relay more complex messages farther and farther till it connected people from around the world by pressing a few buttons.

A morse key

The first electrical telegraph was invented by Samuel Soemmering in 1809 using gold wires in water sending messages around two thousand feet away that could be read by determining how much gas was released. Although very crude, it was a vast improvement on earlier methods of telegraphy. In Greek it can be broken down into two words: tele and grapheintele. Tele meaning far and graphein to write, so telegraphy basically means a written message sent from a far. The simple forms of optical telegraphy were mostly smoke and light beacons, and although they were sufficient to relay simple messages they were heavily reliant on the weather.

From 1792 through 1846 Napoleon Bonaparte used the semaphore network, which was invented by Claude Chappe. This form of telegraphy could send more complex messages then smoke or light messages, as well as not expending fuel. Although being more efficient it still relied on good weather. Chappe’s semaphore network required operating towers every 20 miles and could relay about two words per minute. However this network was very expensive, due to the amount of towers that needed to be created and operated, so it was never used commercially.

A late-model British Telecom "Puma" telex machine, circa 1980s

The first electrical telegraph would not come into the light until April 9, 1839 when Sir William Fothergill Cooke’s invention was used in the Great Western Railway in Great Britan, which ran for thirteen miles, from Paddington station to West Drayton. Cooke along with John Lewis Ricardo created the Electric Telegraph Company in 1846, which was the worlds first telegraph company which lasted until 1855 when it merged with the International Telegraph Company to become the Electric and International Telegraph Company. Then again in 1868 it was bought by the British General Post Office. The first fax machine, aslo called a facsimile machine, was invented by a Scotish inventor named Alexander Bain in 1843. This frirst fax machine was able to send images through wires, similarly to the way that we still use fax machines today. American’s Samuel F. B. Morse with his assistant Alfred Vail in 1837 created the Morse Code which sent signals in Morse that were translated into alphabetic letters. In July 18, 1866 the first transatlantic telegraph cables were succesfully completed. There were Three previous attempts which failed in 1857, 1858, 1865. Later in 1870 Britan and India were connected, followed shortly by Australia being connected to the main land. This allowed Australia to receive news from around the world almost instantaniously for the first time including the news paper Oxford University Press. In 1870 Thomas Edison invented the first full duplex two-way telegraph. This system allows both people communicating to speak simulnaiously, where as previous communication devices only allowed one to speak at a time. These previous devices were one way radios, Edison’s new invention revolutionized communication creating the phonograph. In 1876 the telephone was patneted by Alexander Graham Bell, marking the end of the telegraphs reign over communication. Through the 1880 and up until the end of the century the telegraph remained an important part of communication. By 1902 the entire world was connected by telegraphs, both by the atlantic and the pacific circomventing the planet. As technology of the telephone and the creation of the internet telegrams have seen a study decline falling from 211,971,000 messages handled in 1870 to 69,679,000 messages handled in 1920. Since then with the advent of the telephone and the internet telegraphs had been rendered usless, usually being sent as a novelty rather then a message.


Early work Edit

From early studies of electricity, electrical phenomena were known to travel with great speed, and many experimenters worked on the application of electricity to communications at a distance. All the known effects of electricity—such as sparks, electrostatic attraction, chemical changes, electric shocks, and later electromagnetism—were applied to the problems of detecting controlled transmissions of electricity at various distances. [5]

In 1753, an anonymous writer in the Scots Magazine suggested an electrostatic telegraph. Using one wire for each letter of the alphabet, a message could be transmitted by connecting the wire terminals in turn to an electrostatic machine, and observing the deflection of pith balls at the far end. [6] The writer has never been positively identified, but the letter was signed C.M. and posted from Renfrew leading to a Charles Marshall of Renfrew being suggested. [7] Telegraphs employing electrostatic attraction were the basis of early experiments in electrical telegraphy in Europe, but were abandoned as being impractical and were never developed into a useful communication system. [8]

In 1774, Georges-Louis Le Sage realised an early electric telegraph. The telegraph had a separate wire for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet and its range was only between two rooms of his home. [9]

In 1800, Alessandro Volta invented the voltaic pile, allowing for a continuous current of electricity for experimentation. This became a source of a low-voltage current that could be used to produce more distinct effects, and which was far less limited than the momentary discharge of an electrostatic machine, which with Leyden jars were the only previously known man-made sources of electricity.

Another very early experiment in electrical telegraphy was an "electrochemical telegraph" created by the German physician, anatomist and inventor Samuel Thomas von Sömmering in 1809, based on an earlier, less robust design of 1804 by Spanish polymath and scientist Francisco Salva Campillo. [10] Both their designs employed multiple wires (up to 35) to represent almost all Latin letters and numerals. Thus, messages could be conveyed electrically up to a few kilometers (in von Sömmering's design), with each of the telegraph receiver's wires immersed in a separate glass tube of acid. An electric current was sequentially applied by the sender through the various wires representing each letter of a message at the recipient's end, the currents electrolysed the acid in the tubes in sequence, releasing streams of hydrogen bubbles next to each associated letter or numeral. The telegraph receiver's operator would watch the bubbles and could then record the transmitted message. [10] This is in contrast to later telegraphs that used a single wire (with ground return).

Hans Christian Ørsted discovered in 1820 that an electric current produces a magnetic field that will deflect a compass needle. In the same year Johann Schweigger invented the galvanometer, with a coil of wire around a compass, which could be used as a sensitive indicator for an electric current. [11] Also that year, André-Marie Ampère suggested that telegraphy could be achieved by placing small magnets under the ends of a set of wires, one pair of wires for each letter of the alphabet. He was apparently unaware of Schweigger's invention at the time, which would have made his system much more sensitive. In 1825, Peter Barlow tried Ampère's idea but only got it to work over 200 feet (61 m) and declared it impractical. In 1830 William Ritchie improved on Ampère's design by placing the magnetic needles inside a coil of wire connected to each pair of conductors. He successfully demonstrated it, showing the feasibility of the electromagnetic telegraph, but only within a lecture hall. [12]

In 1825, William Sturgeon invented the electromagnet, with a single winding of uninsulated wire on a piece of varnished iron, which increased the magnetic force produced by electric current. Joseph Henry improved it in 1828 by placing several windings of insulated wire around the bar, creating a much more powerful electromagnet which could operate a telegraph through the high resistance of long telegraph wires. [13] During his tenure at The Albany Academy from 1826 to 1832, Henry first demonstrated the theory of the 'magnetic telegraph' by ringing a bell through one-mile (1.6 km) of wire strung around the room in 1831. [14]

In 1835, Joseph Henry and Edward Davy independently invented the mercury dipping electrical relay, in which a magnetic needle is dipped into a pot of mercury when an electric current passes through the surrounding coil. [15] [16] [17] In 1837, Davy invented the much more practical metallic make-and-break relay which became the relay of choice in telegraph systems and a key component allowing weak signals to be periodically renewed. [18] Davy demonstrated his telegraph system in Regent's Park in 1837 and was granted a patent on 4 July 1838. [19] Davy also invented a printing telegraph which used the electric current from the telegraph signal to mark a ribbon of calico infused with potassium iodide and calcium hypochlorite. [20]

First working systems Edit

The first working telegraph was built by the English inventor Francis Ronalds in 1816 and used static electricity. [21] [22] At the family home on Hammersmith Mall, he set up a complete subterranean system in a 175-yard (160 m) long trench as well as an eight-mile (13 km) long overhead telegraph. The lines were connected at both ends to revolving dials marked with the letters of the alphabet and electrical impulses sent along the wire were used to transmit messages. Offering his invention to the Admiralty in July 1816, it was rejected as "wholly unnecessary". [23] His account of the scheme and the possibilities of rapid global communication in Descriptions of an Electrical Telegraph and of some other Electrical Apparatus [24] was the first published work on electric telegraphy and even described the risk of signal retardation due to induction. [25] Elements of Ronalds' design were utilised in the subsequent commercialisation of the telegraph over 20 years later. [26]

Pioneering work in Russia Edit

The Schilling telegraph, invented by Baron Schilling von Canstatt in 1832, was an early needle telegraph. It had a transmitting device that consisted of a keyboard with 16 black-and-white keys. [27] These served for switching the electric current. The receiving instrument consisted of six galvanometers with magnetic needles, suspended from silk threads. The two stations of Schilling's telegraph were connected by eight wires six were connected with the galvanometers, one served for the return current and one for a signal bell. When at the starting station the operator pressed a key, the corresponding pointer was deflected at the receiving station. Different positions of black and white flags on different disks gave combinations which corresponded to the letters or numbers. Pavel Schilling subsequently improved its apparatus by reducing the number of connecting wires from eight to two.

On 21 October 1832, Schilling managed a short-distance transmission of signals between two telegraphs in different rooms of his apartment. In 1836, the British government attempted to buy the design but Schilling instead accepted overtures from Nicholas I of Russia. Schilling's telegraph was tested on a 5-kilometre-long (3.1 mi) experimental underground and underwater cable, laid around the building of the main Admiralty in Saint Petersburg and was approved for a telegraph between the imperial palace at Peterhof and the naval base at Kronstadt. However, the project was cancelled following Schilling's death in 1837. [28] Schilling was also one of the first to put into practice the idea of the binary system of signal transmission. [27]

His work was taken over and developed by Moritz von Jacobi. He invented telegraph equipment which was used by Tsar Alexander III to connect the Imperial palace at Tsarskoye Selo and Kronstadt Naval Base.

In 1833, Carl Friedrich Gauss, together with the physics professor Wilhelm Weber in Göttingen installed a 1,200-metre-long (3,900 ft) wire above the town's roofs. Gauss combined the Poggendorff-Schweigger multiplicator with his magnetometer to build a more sensitive device, the galvanometer. To change the direction of the electric current, he constructed a commutator of his own. As a result, he was able to make the distant needle move in the direction set by the commutator on the other end of the line.

At first, Gauss and Weber used the telegraph to coordinate time, but soon they developed other signals and finally, their own alphabet. The alphabet was encoded in a binary code that was transmitted by positive or negative voltage pulses which were generated by means of moving an induction coil up and down over a permanent magnet and connecting the coil with the transmission wires by means of the commutator. The page of Gauss' laboratory notebook containing both his code and the first message transmitted, as well as a replica of the telegraph made in the 1850s under the instructions of Weber are kept in the faculty of physics at the University of Göttingen, in Germany.

Gauss was convinced that this communication would be a help to his kingdom's towns. Later in the same year, instead of a Voltaic pile, Gauss used an induction pulse, enabling him to transmit seven letters a minute instead of two. The inventors and university did not have the funds to develop the telegraph on their own, but they received funding from Alexander von Humboldt. Carl August Steinheil in Munich was able to build a telegraph network within the city in 1835–1836. He installed a telegraph line along the first German railroad in 1835. Steinheil built a telegraph along the Nuremberg - Fürth railway line in 1838, the first earth-return telegraph put into service.

By 1837, William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone had co-developed a telegraph system which used a number of needles on a board that could be moved to point to letters of the alphabet. Any number of needles could be used, depending on the number of characters it was required to code. In May 1837 they patented their system. The patent recommended five needles, which coded twenty of the alphabet's 26 letters.

Samuel Morse independently developed and patented a recording electric telegraph in 1837. Morse's assistant Alfred Vail developed an instrument that was called the register for recording the received messages. It embossed dots and dashes on a moving paper tape by a stylus which was operated by an electromagnet. [29] Morse and Vail developed the Morse code signalling alphabet. The first telegram in the United States was sent by Morse on 11 January 1838, across two miles (3 km) of wire at Speedwell Ironworks near Morristown, New Jersey, although it was only later, in 1844, that he sent the message "WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT" over the 44 miles (71 km) from the Capitol in Washington to the old Mt. Clare Depot in Baltimore. [30] [31]

History of the Telephone in Australia and Worldwide

Before the invention of electro magnetic telephones, there were mechanical devices for transmitting spoken words over a greater distance than ordinary speech. The very earliest mechanical telephones were based on sound transmission through pipes or other physical media. Speaking tubes long remained common, and can still be found today. A different device, the lover's telephone or string telephone has also been known for centuries, connecting two diaphragms with string or wire which transmits the sound from one to the other by mechanical vibrations along the string and not by electric current. The classic example is the children's toy made by connecting the bottoms of two paper cups, metal cans, or plastic bottles with string.

Electrical telegraph

The telephone began as improvements to the telegraph. Samuel Thomas von Soemmering constructed his electrochemical telegraph in 1809. An electromagnetic telegraph was created by Baron Schilling in 1832. Carl Friedrich Gauß and Wilhelm Weber built an electromagnetic telegraph in 1833 in Göttingen. The first commercial electrical telegraph was constructed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and entered use on the Great Western Railway in Britain. It ran for 13 miles from Paddington station to West Drayton and came into operation on April 9, 1839.

An electrical telegraph was independently developed and patented in the United States in 1837 by Samuel Morse. His assistant, Alfred Vail, developed the Morse code signaling alphabet with Morse. America's first telegram was sent by Morse on January 6, 1838, across two miles of wiring.

In 1854 the first telegraph line was laid from Melbourne city to Williamstown. This was followed in South Australia with a line from Port Adelaide to Adelaide city in 1856. These telegraph lines were immediately popular. In Victoria there were 14,738 messages sent in 1856 and this almost tripled in a year to 35,792 in 1857.

The separate colonies soon agreed to collaborate on an intercolonial telegraph network. The first links between Melbourne and Adelaide and then Melbourne and Sydney were activated in 1858. At this time any messages crossing colonial borders were transcribed onto paper by an operator, transported across the border and then retransmitted.

An underwater cable was laid from Tasmania to Victoria in 1859. However, this soon failed and it wasn&rsquot until 1869 that a replacement was working successfully.

Queensland&rsquos first telegraph line was introduced in 1861 and connected to Sydney in the same year. However, the first line in Western Australia was not introduced for another ten years and Perth was not connected to the intercolonial network until 1872 with a line to Adelaide.

By 1861 there were 110 telegraph stations spread across the eastern colonies and by 1867 Victoria alone was sending 122,000 messages a year (compared to about 7.92 million in the US and 5.78 million in the UK).

The first international news service, Reuters, opened its doors in Australia in 1860, but the price of news was very high. The cost per word for a message from London was about equal to the average weekly wage.

In the 1870s, the colonies began establishing international telecommunications links, with a privately owned cable to Singapore from Port Darwin introduced in 1870. The first link to New Zealand was in place by 1876 and a link to Jakarta (Batavia) by 1889.

Australians took to the new technology very quickly. In many ways this system helped Australia begin thinking of itself and acting as one nation rather than as a collection of isolated colonies.

During the late 19th century inventors tried to find ways of sending multiple telegraph messages simultaneously over a single telegraph wire by using different audio frequencies for each message. These inventors included Charles Bourseul, Thomas Edison, Elisha Gray, and Alexander Graham Bell. Their efforts to develop acoustic telegraphy to reduce the cost of telegraph wires led to the telephone.

Buy Reproduction retro Telephones

Invention of the telephone

Credit for inventing the electric telephone remains in dispute. Charles Bourseul, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, amongst others, have all been credited with the invention. The early history of the telephone is a confusing morass of claim and counterclaim, which was not clarified by the huge mass of lawsuits which hoped to resolve the patent claims of individuals. The Bell and Edison patents, however were forensically victorious and commercially decisive. Johann Philipp Reis 1860 constructed one of the first working telephones, today called Reis' telephone.Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the U.S. patent for the invention of the telephone in 1876.

Alexander Graham Bell is often credited as the inventor of the telephone, and the Italian Antonio Meucci was recognized by US Congress on June 11th, 2002 for his pioneer work on the telephone. However, the modern telephone is the result of work done by many people, all worthy of recognition of their contributions to the field. Bell was merely the first to patent the telephone, an "apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically", 16 years after Meucci, who did not have sufficient funds to file a patent application, demonstrated his "teletrofono" in New York in 1860.

The first telephone system in Australia was a private system connecting the offices of Robinson brothers in Melbourne and South Melbourne in 1879. The first telephone exchange was in place in Melbourne the following year, shortly before Ned Kelly was convicted and hung. By 1884 there were about 8,000 calls per year handled by the exchange, or around 20 per day.

The first coin-operated public phones appear to have been installed around 1890, only a few years after the first ones appeared in the USA. At this stage there was still no national telephone network &ndash each colony&rsquos Postmaster General was responsible for the network in their colony.

Early telephones were technically diverse. Some used a liquid transmitter, which was dangerous, inconvenient, and soon went out of use. Some were dynamic: their diaphragm wriggled a coil of wire in the field of a permanent magnet or vice versa. This kind survived in small numbers through the 20th century in military and maritime applications where its ability to create its own electrical power was crucial. Most, however, used the Edison/Berliner carbon transmitter, which was much louder than the other kinds, even though it required an induction coil, actually acting as an impedance matching transformer to make it compatible to the impedance of the line. The Edison patents kept the Bell monopoly viable into the 20th century, by which time the network was more important than the instrument anyway.

Early telephones were locally powered, using a dynamic transmitter or else powering the transmitter with a local battery. One of the jobs of outside plant personnel was to visit each telephone periodically to inspect the battery. During the 20th century, "common battery" operation came to dominate, powered by "talk battery" from the telephone exchange over the same wires that carried the voice signals. Late in the century, wireless handsets brought a revival of local battery power.

Early telephones had one wire for both transmitting and receiving of audio, with ground return as used in telegraphs. The earliest dynamic telephones also had only one opening for sound, and the user alternately listened and spoke (rather, shouted) into the same hole. Sometimes the instruments were operated in pairs at each end, making conversation more convenient but also more expensive.

At first, the benefits of an exchange were not exploited. Telephones instead were leased in pairs to the subscriber, for example one for his home and one for his shop, who must arrange with telegraph contractors to construct a line between them. Users who wanted the ability to speak to three or four different shops, suppliers etc would obtain and set up three or four pairs of telephones. Western Union, already using telegraph exchanges, quickly extended the principle to its telephones in New York City and San Francisco, and Bell was not slow in appreciating the potential.

Signalling began in an appropriately primitive manner. The user alerted the other end, or the exchange operator, by whistling into the transmitter. Exchange operation soon resulted in telephones being equipped with a bell, first operated over a second wire and later with the same wire using a condenser. Telephones connected to the earliest Strowger automatic exchanges had seven wires, one for the knife switch, one for each telegraph key, one for the bell, one for the push button and two for speaking.

Rural and other telephones that were not on a common battery exchange had a "magneto" or hand cranked generator to produce a high voltage alternating signal to ring the bells of other telephones on the line and to alert the exchange operator.

In 1877 and 1878, Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, a federal court ruled in 1892 that Edison and not Emile Berliner was the inventor of the carbon microphone. The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.
1896 Telephone (Sweden)

In the 1890s a new smaller style of telephone was introduced, packaged in three parts. The transmitter stood on a stand, known as a "candlestick" for its shape. When not in use, the receiver hung on a hook with a switch in it, known as a "switchhook." Previous telephones required the user to operate a separate switch to connect either the voice or the bell. With the new kind, the user was less likely to leave the phone "off the hook". In phones connected to magneto exchanges, the bell, induction coil, battery and magneto were in a separate "bell box." In phones connected to common battery exchanges, the bell box was installed under a desk, or other out of the way place, since it did not need a battery or magneto.

Cradle designs were also used at this time, having a handle with the receiver and transmitter attached, separate from the cradle base that housed the magneto crank and other parts. They were larger than the "candlestick" and more popular.

Disadvantages of single wire operation such as crosstalk and hum from nearby AC power wires had already led to the use of twisted pairs and, for long distance telephones, four-wire circuits. Users at the beginning of the 20th century did not place long distance calls from their own telephones but made an appointment to use a special sound proofed long distance telephone booth furnished with the latest technology.

By 1904 there were over three million phones in the US, still connected by manual exchanges. In 1901, the newly introduced Australian Constitution gave the new Commonwealth Government power over all postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and &lsquoall other&rsquo communications services. The first Postmaster-General (PMG) became responsible for managing all domestic telephone, telegraph and postal services. The colonial networks (staff, switches, wires, handsets, buildings etc) were transferred to the Commonwealth and became the responsibility of the first Postmaster-General (PMG), a federal Minister overseeing the Postmaster-General's Department that managed all domestic telephone, telegraph and postal services.

When the department was founded there were around 33,000 phones across Australia, with 7,502 telephone subscribers in inner Sydney and 4,800 in Melbourne&rsquos central business district. A trunk line between Melbourne (the headquarters of the PMG Department) and Sydney was in place by 1907, with extensions to Adelaide in 1914, Brisbane in 1923, Perth in 1930 and Hobart in 1935.

What turned out to be the most popular and longest lasting physical style of telephone was introduced in the early 20th century, including Bell's Model 102. A carbon granule transmitter and electromagnetic receiver were united in a single molded plastic handle, which when not in use sat in a cradle in the base unit. The circuit diagram of the Model 102 shows the direct connection of the receiver to the line, while the transmitter was induction coupled, with energy supplied by a local battery. The coupling transformer, battery, and ringer were in a separate enclosure. The dial switch in the base interrupted the line current by repeatedly but very briefly disconnecting the line 1-10 times for each digit, and the hook switch (in the center of the circuit diagram) permanently disconnected the line and the transmitter battery while the handset was on the cradle.

After the 1930s, the base also enclosed the bell and induction coil, obviating the old separate bell box. Power was supplied to each subscriber line by central office batteries instead of a local battery, which required periodic service. For the next half century, the network behind the telephone became progressively larger and much more efficient, but after the dial was added the instrument itself changed little until touch tone replaced the dial in the 1960s.

y the early 1960&rsquos, telephone availability was becoming widespread, and many homes had more than one phone. Phones in various colours were used to match the décor. Wall phones became popular for kitchens to save on bench space. Throughout the world, there was to be only minor differences in features and appearance of their own plastic telephones. Some manufacturers produced moulded plastic telephones very similar in appearance to the Western Electric 500 series from the USA.

In Australia, a quite different shaped plastic telephone called the 800 series was available to telephone subscribers in 1963. The Australian Post Office had recognised for some time that a range of colour phones would be demanded by subscribers. Eventually a consortium of STC, AWA and APO engineers all contributed to the development and manufacture of the 800 series. Based on a design by Bell Telephone Manufacturing Co of Antwerp, Belgium with considerable change to internal design and reasonably cosmetic changes externally. The 802 series teelphone was available in Light Ivory, Mist Grey, Fern Green, Topaz Yellow, Lacquer Red, and Black.

In the picture below, can be seen the wall phone versions of these 800 series of telephones

In 1946 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) was created under the Postmaster-General&rsquos control to manage overseas telecommunication services.

The Postmaster-General's Department (PMG) continued to grow in size and became a very influential part of the Commonwealth Government. Beginning with 16,000 staff it grew to over 120,000 by the late 1960s, or almost 50 per cent of all Commonwealth employees.

By 1975 the telecommunications industry had become so large that the Commonwealth government decided to separate post and telecommunications. The Postmaster General&rsquos Department was split into the Australian Postal Commission (Australia Post) and Australian Telecommunications Commission (ATC).

Time line of Australian and Worldwide Telecommunications:

1830 - Joseph Henry constructs the first long distance telegraphic device, by sending electronic currents across over a mile of wire, subsequently activating an electromagnet, causing a bell to ring.
1835 - Samuel Morse builds the first American telegraph (which is also being developed independently in Europe).
1837 - Samuel Morse patents a working telegraph machine, using a dots and spaces code in place of the letters of the alphabet.
1838 - Samuel Morse successfully sends up to 10 words per minute through his new system.
1842 - Alexander Bain invents the first facsimile machine, capable of receiving signals from a telegraph wire and translating them into images on paper. He uses a clock mechanism to transfer an image from one sheet of electrically conductive paper to another.
1850 - Samuel Morse and his assistant evolve the simple code of dots and dashes, now internationally known as 'Morse code'.
1858 - The first inter-colony telegraph links are built between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Three years later, Brisbane is linked with Sydney.
1861 - The Sydney-Brisbane telegraph line is inaugurated.
1869 - The first successful submarine telegraphic cable linking Tasmania to the mainland is laid.
1872 - The 2000 mile Overland Telegraphic Cable line is completed under the direction of South Australian Post-Master General Charles Todd. At Darwin it later connects with a submarine cable in Java, putting Australia in touch with the rest of the world.
1876 - At the age of 29 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1877 - The Perth-Adelaide telegraph line opens. South Australia becomes the first Australian colony to join the International Telegraph Union later to become the Telecommunication Union.
1878 - Following the invention of the telephone, several long-distance transmission experiments are successfully conducted in Australia, at distances of up to 400 km.
1880 - Only two years after the first exchange in the world is built, Australia's first telephone exchanges open in Melbourne and Brisbane, followed by Sydney in 1881.
1883 - Exchanges open in Adelaide and Hobart, the Perth exchange opens in 1887.
1893 - The first public telephone is opened at Sydney GPO.
1898 - The Overland Telegraph Line, also known as the Magic Chain, is made from a single strand of iron wire. A second copper wire is added to the telegraphic connection with Europe and it remains a vital link for decades.
1900 - 30,000 telephone services are operating in Australia.
1901 - The newly formed Commonwealth Government takes over all phone, telegraph and postal services.
1902 - Dr Arthur Korn invents and improves a practical facsimile machine: the photoelectric system.
1907 - The Sydney-Melbourne trunk telephone line opens.
1912 - The first public automated exchange is introduced in Geelong, Victoria.
1912 - Automated telephone switching came into place.
1914 - The first automatic exchange opens in New South Wales, in the suburb of Newtown.
1914 - Edouard Belin establishes the concept for remote fax photo/news reporting.
1922 - The Sydney-Brisbane telephone trunk line opens following the introduction of thermionic repeaters.
1923 - The first Australian radio broadcasting stations, 2BL and 2FC, open in Sydney. The conversion is made from Morse to machine operation on main telegraph routes.
1925 - Australia's first telephone carrier system (with three channels) is installed between Melbourne and Sydney enabling one wire to carry more than one conversation.
1930 - The Australia-UK beam wireless service starts and a year later international manual exchanges open in various Australian States.
1934 - The first wireless beam picturegram service opens between England and Australia.
1936 - A submarine cable is laid between Tasmania and mainland Australia, and at this time it is the longest in the world.
1946 - The Commonwealth Government establishes the Overseas Telecommunications Commission which becomes a monopoly provider of all forms of telecommunications linking Australia and the rest of the world.
1948 - A telephone service to ships at sea is established and the same year a direct radio telephone service links Australia and the Antarctic expedition stations at Heard Island and Macquarie Island.
1952 - Temporary services are established between Australia and Finland for the duration of the Helsinki Olympic Games. Permanent services are to follow.
1953 - Perth becomes the first capital city to have an all automatic telephone network. By 1957, 98% of telephones in capital cities are automatic.
1954 - Australia's first teleprinter exchange service opens in Melbourne and Sydney with 80 customers.
1956 - The Melbourne Olympic Games proves a starting point for all forms of telecommunications growth in Australia with the Overseas Telecommunications Commission developing many resources and facilities to cater for the unprecedented demand. A new radio telephone exchange is established linking Perth to London.
1959 - Growing telegram traffic makes the APO apply a message switching system called Teleprinter Reperforator Exchange Switching System (TRESS). It was an innovation which hastened the end of morse telegraphy.
1964 - Australia becomes a founding member of International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (INTELSAT).
1964 - The first major installation of coaxial cable opens and links Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It has a potential capacity of thousands of simultaneous phone calls, with the added possibility of relaying television programs.
1966 - The telex service is converted to fully automatic. It is linked to 100 overseas countries and about 4000 customers throughout Australia.
1966 - The first international satellite broadcast between Australia and the UK takes place.
1967 - First direct satellite broadcast from North America to Australia. Australia is one of the first 22 countries to participate in a world-wide live television link-up via satellite during the 'Our World' program.
1970 - Transistors enable most coaxial cable equipment to be placed in small underground containers, accessible through a manhole.
1970 - Optical fibres are commercially produced for the first time.
1974 - Videotex links three already well-established technologies of television, computer and telephone into a new tool, an interactive system that includes the possibility of purchasing goods, booking travel, sending messages and transferring money at the touch of a button.
1975 - On 12 June, the Australian Telecommunications Commission was established, trading as Telecom Australia - separating the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission.
1976 - Automated direct dialing is introduced in Australia, giving access to 13 countries. Its popularity is such that by the end of the decade its use has grown eightfold. This international dialing is now called IDD and has universal acceptance.
1977 - 2 million is spent on telecommunications materials in this year alone.
1978 - Push button dialing is introduced to Australia.
1979 - The first major solar powered trunk system in the world opens between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.
1980 - The internet makes its appearance: an electronic code that enables computers across the world to communicate with each other via a phone line.
1981 - The first fully computerised telephone exchange opens in Victoria.
1981 - Telecom launches the mobile phone, a significant development in communication for travelling workers.
1983 - The conference phone is introduced to the public, a phone that can store numbers, have abbreviated dialling and call-back facilities.
1985 - Computerised customer billing starts.
1987 - Cardphone payphones which accept major credit cards are introduced.
1988 - The Electronic White Pages are introduced to provide direct access to a constantly updated national White Pages database.
1989 - The first data network phase of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) launches.
1990 - Phonecards are introduced with cards available in , , and denominations.
1992 - On February 1st, Telecom and the Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (OTC) are merged to become the Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation.
1993 - Telecom changes its trading name for trading overseas to Telstra Corporation Limited in April.
1993 - The last mail-delivered lettergram was sent in Melbourne by Australia Post on 1st October at 5pm EST.
1995 - On 1st July 1995 Telecom changes it's trading name to Telstra for domestic trading.


Background Edit

Several people came up with the idea for a hotline. They included Harvard professor Thomas Schelling, who had worked on nuclear war policy for the Defense Department previously. Schelling credited the pop fiction novel Red Alert (the basis of the film Dr. Strangelove) with making governments more aware of the benefit of direct communication between the superpowers. In addition, Parade magazine editor Jess Gorkin personally badgered 1960 presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and buttonholed the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev during a U.S. visit to adopt the idea. [1] During this period Gerard C. Smith, as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, proposed direct communication links between Moscow and Washington. Objections from others in the State Department, the U.S. military, and the Kremlin delayed introduction. [1]

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis made the hotline a priority. During the standoff, official diplomatic messages typically took six hours to deliver unofficial channels, such as via television network correspondents, had to be used too as they were quicker. [1]

During the crisis, the United States took nearly twelve hours to receive and decode Nikita Khrushchev's 3,000-word-initial settlement message – a dangerously long time. By the time Washington had drafted a reply, a tougher message from Moscow had been received, demanding that U.S. missiles be removed from Turkey. White House advisers thought faster communications could have averted the crisis, and resolved it quickly. The two countries signed the Hot Line Agreement in June 1963 – the first time they formally took action to cut the risk of starting a nuclear war unintentionally. [5]

Agreement Edit

The "hotline", as it would come to be known, was established after the signing of a "Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Line" on June 20, 1963, in Geneva, Switzerland, by representatives of the Soviet Union and the United States. [3]

Technical details: United States Edit

At the Pentagon, the hotline system is located at the National Military Command Center. Each MOLINK (Moscow Link) team historically worked an eight-hour shift: a non-commissioned officer looked after the equipment, and a commissioned officer who was fluent in Russian and well-briefed on world affairs was translator. [1]

Messages received in Washington automatically carry the U.S. government's highest security classification, "Eyes Only - The President". [1]

The hotline was tested hourly. U.S. test messages have included excerpts of William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, encyclopedias, and a first-aid manual Soviet tests included passages from the works of Anton Chekhov. MOLINK staffers take special care not to include innuendo or literary imagery that could be misinterpreted, such as passages from Winnie the Pooh, given that a bear is considered the national symbol of Russia. The Soviets also asked, during the Carter administration, that Washington not send routine communications through the hotline. [1]

On New Year's Eve and on August 30, the hotline's anniversary, greetings replace the test messages. [1]

Upon receipt of the message at the NMCC, the message is translated into English, and both the original Russian and the translated English texts are transmitted to the White House Situation Room. However, if the message were to indicate "an imminent disaster, such as an accidental nuclear strike", the MOLINK team would telephone the gist of the message to the Situation Room duty officer who would brief the president before a formal translation was complete. [1]

The Republican Party criticized the hotline in its 1964 national platform it said the Kennedy administration had "sought accommodations with Communism without adequate safeguards and compensating gains for freedom. It has alienated proven allies by opening a 'hot line' first with a sworn enemy rather than with a proven friend, and in general pursued a risky path such as it began at Munich a quarter century ago." [6]

Electrical transmission

Telegraphy was an emerging technology at the time of Victoria's message. It was to be a mature factor less than five years later, when it was used for critical communications during the American Civil War. Transmitting data through a cable more than 2,000 nautical miles in length proved to be a far more complicated problem than transmitting through the relatively short distances of terrestrial communication.

Dealing with the problem stimulated work by some of the most respected scientific minds of the time. James Clerk Maxwell, of Maxwell's Equations fame, was involved. He seems to have taken a lighthearted view of the effort. He composed a satirical ballad which he called "The Song of the Atlantic Telegraph Company."

William Thompson, later Lord Kelvin, took a more serious view and was involved from the earliest stages. He took part in the deep sea soundings that were essential to understanding the environment in which a cable would have to survive. He was also responsible for innovations like the mirror galvanometer which became an essential part of the system.

A deep understanding of electronics as it was then known was required to deal with the question of transmitting a direct current pulse through the distributed capacitance of a cable.

A great deal of new technology was born. It was, for example, found possible to transmit messages in both directions without interference by using clever circuits based on the Wheatstone bridge.

Merely making and breaking a circuit was not adequate to transmit a recognizable pulse. Closing a circuit resulted in charging a thousand-miles-long capacitor to a voltage high enough to be detected at the far end. After charging it was necessary to discharge this capacitor before it could be used to transmit another pulse.

In some cases, called "curb sending" a shorter pulse of opposite polarity would automatically be transmitted after the pulse which carried information. It also became common to use a system in which the dots were transmitted in one polarity and the dashes in the opposite.

With shorter terrestrial lines a transmission was decoded by an operator listening to the spacing of pairs of clicks made by a receiver as pulses began and ended. Such a straightforward approach was not possible with the transatlantic cable. Reception was initially done using a sensitive galvanometer in which a needle was deflected in one direction or the other depending on the polarity of the incoming pulse. Early work on this had been done in 1839 by Cooke and by Wheatstone, the inventor of the bridge circuit that bears his name.

The needle was soon replaced by Kelvin's galvanometer in which a mirror was used as an optical lever to produce a more visible deflection. This was further refined to a system in which a permanent record was produced on a moving paper tape by deflecting a hypodermic needle-like "siphon," which deposited a continuous trail of ink.

In the absence of intelligent machines, data handling necessarily put a man in the link. A land-bound telegraph operator could transmit as many as eight words per minute. By contrast, during the early days it took as much as two minutes to transmit a single Morse code character of a few dots and dashes.

Data were entered by manual keying, although the hardware rarely resembled the single straight key cherished today by radio amateurs. It was not unusual to use two keys or a compound key in which deflection in one direction produced a pulse of one polarity and deflection in the other direction produced a pulse of the opposite polarity. In some cases one key produced a dot, another produced a dash.

When not actually in use the cable was kept grounded and the fact that the Earth could be used as a return was an important early discovery. It had not been recognized at the outset.

Power was a supplied by stacks of lead-acid cells as well as by other more exotic plate and electrolyte combinations. A type very common during the Victorian era had been invented by Volta in 1799. It comprised a stack of disks of alternating copper and zinc separated by pads soaked in salt water.

In early stages of development, voltages on the order of 500 were used. It was later concluded that 60 volts was adequate. The fact that such a voltage reduction was possible was a very fortunate but late discovery by the pioneers.

In the failure of the 1858 cable, the insulation was broken down by excessive voltage. The higher potential, perhaps as much as 2,000 volts, had been tried by the aptly named and soon replaced chief electrician: Wildman Whitehouse. As happens in developmental work, he had been misled by a logical snare. If a little voltage is good, a lot looks attractive, but is not necessarily better.

Soon, other submarine cables where spanning the world’s seas and oceans. Mostly set up under British control, the global network of submarine telegraph cables added to the “command and control” capability needed to maintain an economic and political empire in which the sun never set. With its new undersea links, telegraphy also had dramatic impact on world maritime shipping. For thousands of years, when ships set out to sea to carry on long distance trading, it would be a long time before they returned, often months and sometimes more than a year. During this time, the there was no communication with the ship. The owners had no knowledge of the fate of their ship. Merchants had no way of knowing the commercial fate of their cargoes until the ship returned home. With no knowledge of the quality and quantity of goods arriving on inbound ships, buyers and sellers negotiated in relative ignorance. With submarine cables, traders had a more realistic understanding of the availability and pricing of commodities and products in the markets around the world. Better knowledge also allowed the shipping companies to redirect ships in response to changing opportunities in different parts of the world.

The rate of communication over the submarine telegraph cables began with 8 words per minute and improved quickly to 17 words per minute. At $5 a word, this mode of communication was very expensive. Based on the 1880 U.S. census data, the average skilled worker would have had to work one to two full days to send one word across the Atlantic. By today’s standards, these communication speeds are ludicrously slow and outrageously expensive. And yet, in the 19th century, the transatlantic cable provided an enormous economic and political advantage to those able to afford it. Hibernia Atlantic’s Express Project, with its 5 millisecond advantage, does show that timely access to intelligence still commands a premium price.

Preelectric telegraph systems

The word telegraph is derived from the Greek words tele, meaning “distant,” and graphein, meaning “to write.” It came into use toward the end of the 18th century to describe an optical semaphore system developed in France. However, many types of telegraphic communication have been employed since before recorded history. The earliest methods of communication at a distance made use of such media as smoke, fire, drums, and reflected rays of the Sun. Visual signals given by flags and torches were used for short-range communication and continued to be utilized well into the 20th century, when the two-flag semaphore system was widely used, particularly by the world’s navies.

Before the development of the electric telegraph, visual systems were used to convey messages over distances by means of variable displays. One of the most successful of the visual telegraphs was the semaphore developed in France by the Chappe brothers, Claude and Ignace, in 1791. This system consisted of pairs of movable arms mounted at the ends of a crossbeam on hilltop towers. Each arm of the semaphore could assume seven angular positions 45° apart, and the horizontal beam could tilt 45° clockwise or counterclockwise. In this manner it was possible to represent numbers and the letters of the alphabet. Chains of these towers were built to permit transmission over long distances. The towers were spaced at intervals of 5 to 10 km (3 to 6 miles), and a signaling rate of three symbols per minute could be achieved.

Another widely used visual telegraph was developed in 1795 by George Murray in England. In Murray’s device, characters were sent by opening and closing various combinations of six shutters. This system rapidly caught on in England and in the United States, where a number of sites bearing the name Telegraph Hill or Signal Hill can still be found, particularly in coastal regions. Visual telegraphs were completely replaced by the electric telegraph by the middle of the 19th century.

Was a direct telegraph line between America and Australia ever created? - History

The Grove Cell
Workhorse of the early North American telegraph in the mid-1800s.

Above you can see a Grove 'battery' being assembled. In terminology which we use irregularly today . a 'herd' of voltaic CELLS was called a BATTERY. Saying that backwards: the smallest functioning unit of a battery is a cell and so here is some information on the 'Grove cell' .

It was invented by William Robert Grove in England and became the unofficial battery of the American telegraph explosion . from Morse's first efforts through to the end of the US Civil War . and then some.

In the drawing above, you can see the battery table . with a hole . into which goes a wooden peg . onto which a wooden base is placed . into whose well the glass tumbler of the Grove cell is placed. After the cells are ready, you just solder them all in series and watch the sparks fly! The table and wooden base were treated with tar and or paraffin to shield them from the electrolytes and to help prevent short circuits.

Parts of the Grove cell.

Starting from the outside .
Glass tumbler filled with diluted sulphuric acid.
Cast zinc cylinder goes into the tumbler.
Unglazed pottery cup (not visible) fits inside the zinc cylinder and sits in the dilute sulphuric acid.
Unglazed pottery cup is filled with concentrated nitric acid.
Platinum electrode is placed into the unglazed cup and the nitric acid.
A wire or other soldered connection runs from the zinc terminal of one cell, to the platinum cell of the next.

Platinum is the positive terminal.
Zinc is the negative terminal.
The unglazed pottery cup allows 'ions' to pass through it but not water molecules . the acids do not mix.

Oh . and as current is developed,
poisonous nitric oxide gas constantly evolves from the cells .

"Zinc being one of the most oxydable metals, and being also sufficiently cheap and abundant is generally used by preference for voltaic combinations. Silver, gold, and platinum are severally less susceptible of oxydation, and of chemical action generally, than copper, and would therefore answer voltaic purposes better, but are excluded by their greater cost, and by the fact that copper is found sufficient for all practical purposes.

"It is not, however, absolutely necessary that the inoxydable element of the combination should be a metal at all. It is only necessary that it be a good conductor of electricity. In certain voltaic combinations, charcoal properly solidified has therefore been substituted for copper, the solution being such as would produce a strong chemical action on copper."

Mix 'n' Match Fun Pairs
from a 1919 textbook
. an element higher on the list oxidizes
when combined with an item lower on the list.

Holy redox, Batman!
Volta had the basic knowledge to make flashlight batteries !
They should have named something after him !

Boring favourites: zinc/platinum . zinc/graphite (carbon) . zinc/copper

Live a little . Try a cadmium/uranium cell !

"A serious practical inconvenience, however, attends all batteries is in which concentrated nitric acid is used, owing to the diffusion of nitrous vapour, and the injury to which the parties working them are exposed by respiring it. In my own experiments with Bunsen's batteries [i.e. the Grove cell with carbon] the assistants have been often severely affected.

"In the use of the platinum battery of Grove, the nuisance produced by the evolution of nitrous vapour is sometimes mitigated by enclosing the cells in a box, from the lid of which a tube proceeds which conducts these vapours out of the room."

Back then, pure zinc was very expensive, so zinc with slight impurities was used. However, reactive impurities such as iron or nickel resulted in the zinc element disintegrating at a more rapid rate. So, the process of ' amalgamating ' the zinc was used .

New zinc elements were acid 'pickled', then dipped in mercury, before they were used in Grove cells . to prevent the electrolyte from reacting with the impurities so rapidly . that it destroyed the electrodes before the zinc was consumed.

I've told you kids a thousand times .
pickle in acid, dip in mercury .
BEFORE you use the good new zinc electrodes!

So it's all about burning zinc !

. the platinum Grove and cheaper carbon Bunsen were relatively cheap and powerful for the early, leaky telegraph lines. Some copper-top advertisements today speak with derision about 'plain carbon batteries' . but for early telegraph lines 'plain carbon' was better than 'platinum deluxe'.

But . the problem was how to get rid of the gassy nitric acid reaction entirely . or at least how to limit its use to large central batteries where proper ventilation and supervision could be provided.

Often these electricity generating systems were rapidly deployed across a wide geographical area without many workers (and supervisors) knowing anything about the underlying electrical theory or chemistry. The Grand Trunk telegraph rules of 1855 are full of commandments on how to save money by taking good care of the cell components. I couldn't find any health and safety precautions in the rules.

So, workers were routinely handling acids, breathing poisonous fumes, and handling mercury without much, or any, training on first aid measures or the long term consequences of their work. And this was an 'easy' white collar job compared to covering boilers with asbestos lagging, working in a coal mine, making town gas out of coal, firing a steam locomotive, etc.

Free of toxic fumes,
using relatively cheap copper and zinc,
and a single diluted acid as an electrolyte,
the one volt gravity cell was not as powerful as the two volt Grove .
but it was easier to maintain and well suited to local station circuits.

The Wonder of the Gravity Cell

The gravity battery came into use around 1850 .

The copper electrode was placed in the bottom of the cell's glass tumbler, and copper sulphate crystals (toilet sanitizer blue in colour) were arranged around it. The copper's wire lead was insulated so it did not come into contact with the cell contents. The crystals used were to be smaller than walnut size and larger than dust - presumably to present a good exposed surface area available for aqueous solution. Clean rainwater was then used to fill up the tumbler above the level of the zinc 'crowfoot' at the top.

Next a little sulphuric acid was added to the water and the terminals of the cell were deliberately short-circuited to start the cell's chemical reaction.

When operating, zinc sulphate solution forms around the zinc element . and copper sulphate solution forms around the copper element. The specific gravity of the copper solution is higher so a blue layer of copper sulphate solution forms in the bottom half of the cell - this is not a portable battery!

Zinc is 'consumed' as it passes into solution. The busy little ions in solution eventually cause dissolved copper sulphate to electroplate as elemental copper onto the copper electrode. When the cell needs renewal, the copper mass is removed for factory reprocessing and most of the zinc element has disappeared into solution.

However, if current has not been flowing through the cell . copper gets up to the zinc level and deposits as CuO on the zinc - a black mud which fouls the battery and its ability to produce current.

The battery oil is a high viscosity mineral oil to prevent zinc crystals from creeping over the sides of the battery tumbler and only a fraction of an inch is needed to seal the top surface.

As the battery was used, zinc solution could be siphoned out and replaced with rainwater. Going 'by the book' the copper was not to be replenished by dropping copper sulphate crystals in from the top (and I'm sure that never happened, even on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon) . When the original charge of copper sulphate crystals was gone, it was time to clean out the tumbler and renew the battery, according to 'the book'.

A 1913 textbook states that the gravity battery would last 5-8 weeks in a local station circuit . or 2 months on a mainline circuit.

. here is a partial list of the primary cells devised to that point.

'Primary' cells (e.g. Grove, gravity) PRODUCED electricity .
until their electrodes were consumed.

'Secondary' cells STORED electricity generated outside the cell (e.g. thermal or hydro).

With major North American urban areas developing and possessing electricity and telephone systems by 1914,
lead batteries were the preferred secondary (rechargeable) cells for urban communications circuits.

Below, the Grove and Bunsen cell specifications are shown together.

The gravity cell is a version of the Daniell cell.
The Daniell is shown near the bottom of this list.

Sixty or seventy years into the telegraph era, these gentlemen are having a Tarbeque. In the early 1900s in the US, telephone poles are being field dipped in creosote - coal tar. Note that the pole just removed is not perfect and tapered like today's. It does have a peak shaped into its top to shed the rain - oh, the craftsmanship of the good old days, eh?

Way back in the 1850s and 1860s - as you may have heard - most people knew very little about electricity, conductors, insulators, magnetism and of course even our high school chemistry was not known to them . simply because most had never even SEEN a 'high school'.

Rural one-room schoolhouses were the education institutions attended by most Canadians up to the early 1900s.
So much for having a limo at your prom .

Intelligence and skills appropriate to different historical periods .

WE . know how to .
make and post a video of ourselves on the internet . drive in the rain on a busy freeway around transport trucks.

THEY . knew how to .
identify and fell a tree with an axe, harness and plow with a horse, season firewood,
make bread, and pickle the products of their gardens for the winter.

A telegraph wire line is not sheltered from the effects of the elements and natural forces like a pampered room-temperature LAN.

Even with all of our educational background today . and without peeking on the internet .
can WE predict exactly how and when solar radiation cycles will affect a telegraph line in the next 5 years ?

. a lot was learned from trial and error.

  • Wires stapled to living trees make very bad telegraph lines . water and sap drain off the current before it travels anywhere.
  • Poles cut from trees should be cut in the winter when the sap is out, debarked, and DRY before they are used. Otherwise . water will get in, current will drain off, AND your poles will quickly rot out and fall over.
  • The flow of electrical signals is not slowed by slack wires which dip between poles.
  • Bi-metallic wire (e.g. copper-covered iron) deteriorates quickly out in the elements.
  • Copper wire can stretch, iron wire can rust, either can break. Finding the right conductor and the right gauge of wire to use is a difficult problem.
  • You must brace a pole line on a curve.
  • Telegraph lines don't work well if you run them through railway tunnels.
  • Whenever possible run the telegraph wires along a rail line or a road because it is too difficult to negotiate with all the landowners.
  • Some materials such as ceramics or glass as 'insulators' help the signals flow farther down the wire.
  • Some people like to shoot at insulators or throw rocks at them . some people believe telegraph lines hurt their crops and livestock.
  • Lightning can come into a railway station building and destroy the telegraph instruments.
  • Rain or moisture in the air can interfere with the strength of telegraph signals. In particular, a line of wet insulators and poles can draw some current into the ground (a path of lower resistance) so little is left to flow through the wires.
  • If wires have too much slack so they won't break . wind can blow the bare conductors into contact with each other and 'we can get our wires crossed'.

That is just a sampling of the problems they solved with experience and some scientific trouble-shooting.

As telegraphs were the first commercial use of electricity .
This was the first time humans had strung electrical conductors across an expanse of land.

These images are circa 1900.
For supporting just a couple of lines . wooden brackets with insulators worked OK.
Everything was within easy reach of a pole-climbing maintainer.

Although the cost of telegraph line construction was negligible, compared to a railway line .
lines had to be surveyed .
poles had to be placed and holes dug for them .
arms and insulator pegs had to be attached .

Getting the wire tension and pole bracing right was an important step .
the railway bosses would not want to see some poles leaning toward the tracks and some leaning away !

There were many other details which went into a good telegraph line.
Perpetual maintenance was critical for this essential railway communications system.

As you can see, the main line did not go around the insulators . it just grazed them.
There were different techniques used when securing copper or iron lines.

I purchased this nice old insulator in western Canada, I think.
It probably had a long and undisturbed career on a sleepy branchline until the railway line was ripped up.
Or it was never used at all.

I don't know if it is properly 'stoneware' or 'porcelain' . but you get the idea . a glass-ceramic material.
Instead of stamping 'CPR' into the ceramic material, it was glazed on with periods after each letter.
There is a thread deep inside - under the large 'bell' of the insulator.

With a conducting wire attached, and even if the insulator was wet .
there was a long distance for a fugitive signal current to travel to contact the wooden peg - up and deep inside the dry bell.

The CPR 'Last Spike' as celebrated by the workers at Craigellachie B.C.
after the official party was finished.

You can see the high quality two wire telegraph line which has been strung
for this section of the new transcontinental line

Later on, glass insulators were used - this one has a CNR badge.
These were probably cheaper, but not as efficient insulators as the white ceramic above .
because they apparently maintain a thin film of water molecules on their surface.

By this time, powerful secondary lead cells were probably ramming the current through the wires .
so high efficiency insulation was probably not as critical for the main telegraph line.

The internal thread is visible.
The insulator is attached to the treated wooden threaded peg which would be driven into the crossarms.

Looking more closely, you can see weathering on the wooden peg and perhaps condemnable flaws in the insulator.
Vertical cracks near its base can hold water which can help current leak from the signal wire placed in the groove.
You can see scarring of the glass at the groove where the main line wire was tightly held by the wire tie.

Whether it was crossed or broken wires, broken poles, brushing by branches, or various ground faults .
linemen, particularly when telegraph technology was new, had to be patient trouble-shooters.

First a particular station would report problems with their signal and, starting with the station's wires .
by elimination, the maintainer would have to narrow his search to smaller and smaller segments of line
until the problem was found.

It may have been a common practice to have spare lines available on high traffic routes to cut over to,
while the the defect was being isolated and repaired.

By undoing the wing nut,
the maintainer could break the defective wire without cutting it,
to isolate segments for testing.

At a wreck, a telegraph operator could communicate directly from the location - from anywhere along the line !

The telegraph operator would be relaying instructions for resources from the company official in charge of cleaning up the wreck. Headquarters would also be keen to know exactly when the line would be in service again as trains would be backing up all along the system.

As with the Test Connection above, a telegraph conductor must be completely severed . so a telegraph key can be put into the circuit (in series) to both send and receive. As usual, the key must bridge and break the circuit to send signals.

If a telegraph key and sounder/relay is simply clipped 'in parallel' to an intact wire . the current will take the path of least resistance through the intact wire and 'ignore' the sending and receiving equipment.

  1. Unscrew the thumbscrew of the 'CLIP' and remove it. Notice how the clip (white in the diagram) jumps over the insulated segment.
  2. Raise the clamp under the wire to be used until the wire sits in the longitudinal groove into which the 'main line wire' thumbscrews turn. The cable is under tension so the screws must be firmly tightened before cutting.
  3. Saw through the wire at the break point marked . and ensure the two cut ends do not touch.
  4. Insert your send/receive instrument's (e.g. telegraph key) wires from below into the holes into which the smaller thumbscrews turn and tighten.
  5. You are ready to telegraph from the site! The main line wire's current (for example) will arrive at LEFT and drop to your key through the LEFT key wire. After passing through your key, the current will rise from your key up the RIGHT key wire and continue out the RIGHT side on the main line wire.
  6. When field use of the telegraph line is complete. Disconnect your send/receive instrument's (key) wires.
  7. Replace the CLIP to restore the continuity of the line and leave the clamp connected . a maintainer will later splice the line.

In an real emergency, even a line tapping clamp and a telegraph key were not needed to send. The line (circuit) could be cut. Then the two ends could be tapped together to send a Morse message (or bridged with scrap wire if they were pulled apart by wire line tension).

If necessary to receive a response, it might be possible to see arcing between the ends.
Or . a tongue or other sensitive wet human 'bridge' could be used to feel the signalled response !!

Only in an emergency in the wilderness would you do something like this !

Once powerful secondary batteries were pumping more power through the lines
- thankfully -
appropriate emergency procedures were probably prescribed which would NOT involve the 'tongue relay and sounder'.

The underlying point is . this was simple, elegant technology which worked well in the wilderness.

Fifty years after the Grand Trunk Railway's telegraph line was built,
this is how telephone lines were installed across country circa 1900 - a US photo.
The supply reel of shiny new wire is on one end, and the horse powering the work is on the other end.
The fastening to insulators and correct tensioning of the wires required skill and experience.

As stated earlier, telegraph was the first commercial use of electricity.
Metal wire pole lines had never been constructed before this.

Power lines, telephone lines, cable television lines, etc. all came after the telegraph.

Preview of
Telegraph Part 5

Simplified local station circuit and instruments .

In this simplified conceptual sketch you can see that the main line wires (solid lines) work through the relay and key .
The relay has a special light 'armature' D which is very sensitive to the weak signal coming from the main line.

The dotted line represents the local station circuit with its small gravity cell ( local battery ).
The signal current coming to the relay is boosted to produce a clear, audible signal at the sounder by the local circuit.

* * *

Simplified conceptual sketch of the main telegraph line between cities.

I have substituted Grand Trunk Railway cities .

Montreal and Toronto have BIG primary batteries putting electromotive potential into the main telegraph line at both ends.
Notice that polarity is maintained through the entire circuit from ground to ground.

At Kingston, contacts 1 and 2 must be bridged so Montreal and Toronto (and everyone in between) can send to each other.
Contacts 1 and 2 should be connected to a lightning protector to save the local instruments.
The local circuit has its own local gravity battery and an available ground which may be connected to diagnose line problems.

Interesting details about the instruments and local circuit will be covered in Telegraph Part 5.

Before Canadian Confederation
low barriers to entry allowed telegraph companies to rapidly spread their networks.

It seems their target market was business communications.

* * *

After Canadian Confederation . circa 1871
telegraph systems were important businesses.

Hugh Allan - of the Allan shipping line.
Andrew Allan - his younger brother.
Peter Redpath - son of John Redpath (sugar magnate).
Sir William Logan - noted geologist - established Geological Survey of Canada.
Dr. George Campbell - surgeon Dean, McGill Medical Faculty corporate director & investor.

Photographers hate telegraph poles!

At Glacier House BC, circa 1910, the necessary technique of bracing telegraph lines on curves is illustrated.
Removed from this photo during colourizing was a tall telegraph pole standing behind the locomotive .
this 'offender' is visible on other photographs and postcards.

Telegraph lines generally entered the rear of stations
and the second pole from the camera sends the lines over the tracks to the missing pole.

If only the postcard artists understood the importance of the telegraph to Canadian wilderness railroading !

Was a direct telegraph line between America and Australia ever created? - History

The first telegraph line in Australia was built between Melbourne and Williamstown. It opened on 3 March 1854, by 1861 there are 110 telegraph stations operating along the Eastern States. In 1877 the Perth to Adelaide telegraph line opens.

Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. By 1878 the first long-distance call trials are conducted in Australia at a range of 400km. The first telephone exchanges open in Melbourne and Brisbane by 1880.

The first public telephone is placed at Sydney's General Post Office. By 1900, there are 30,000 operating telephone services, but no central authority to run and maintain them.

All communication services – postal, telegraph and telephone – are placed under the Postmaster General's Department (PMG). Phone services continue to expand, but Telegraph is still the communications medium of choice. The Sydney to Melbourne trunk telephone line opens in 1907, making inter-city chat a reality.

Telephone connections flourish with trunk lines extended between Melbourne and Adelaide. The outbreak of the First World War sees responsibility for wireless communications pass briefly from the PMG to the Navy, but this is flipped back to the PMG by 1920.

Trunk lines extend out between Sydney and Brisbane in 1922 and between Melbourne and Perth by 1930. By 1925, the first three-channel telephone carrier systems are in place, allowing multiple calls to be run along a single wire.

The longest -- at that time -- submarine cable between the mainland and Tasmania, enables communication services for the Apple isle. By the end of the decade, Darwin would be the only capital city not connected to the rest of the PMG's telecoms network.

As global communications become more important, the Commonwealth Government establishes the Overseas Telecommunications Commission to provide telecoms services between Australia and the rest of the world. By 1948 it's possible to phone ships at sea, and a radio telephone service links Australia and Antarctica.

Temporary services between Australia and Finland are installed for the Helsinki Olympic games. It's the 1956 Melbourne Olympics that kick start new innovations, as more telecommunication flow into and out of the Games than ever before. The introduction of the automatic TRESS (Teleprinter Reperforator Exchange Switching System) signals the end for morse transmission of messages.

On 13 December the last Morse code telegram message is sent. In 1964 the first coaxial cable links Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It allows for thousands of simultaneous calls and TV retransmissions. The first satellite broadcasts take place in 1966 and 1967. By 1969 Australia is part of a process that allows viewers to watch the first man on the moon.

The Postmaster General's Department is split into the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission, trading as Telecom. The new body provides international direct dialing (IDD) by 1976 to an initial 13 countries. By 1980, use of IDD grows 800 per cent. The first push button phones go on sale in 1978, slowly replacing their rotary predecessors.

Telecom offers its very first mobile phone in the form of a car phone. Computerisation defines telecommunications in the 1980s, with Telecom setting up its first computerised exchange in Victoria in 1981. In 1988 the first electronic White Pages are introduced.

Telecom merges with the Overseas Telecommunications Corporation and changes its name to Telstra, firstly overseas in 1993 and domestically in 1995. The internet becomes a core part of our business, with BigPond launching in 1996, along with our high-speed cable internet service in the same year. 1997 sees Telstra shares listed on the ASX for the first time.

Optical fibres are installed into the domestic network. High Definition TV (HDTV) and multi-media equipment becomes cost-effective for domestic use. 2004: BigPond Movies and BigPond Music are launched. 2007: The age of the smartphone begins.

View more historical equipment and archives at a Telstra Museum. Our collection, accumulated over more than 50 years, contains items developed and used across Australia as part of the Postmaster-General's (PMG) Department, Telecom and Telstra. To find your local Telstra Museum, visit the contact us page.

The history of messaging

Smoke signals are a form of visual communication that can travel over long distances and are one of the oldest forms of long distance communication. Smoke signals were used to warn others of enemy attacks in Ancient China, as they were able to be seen from tower to tower along the Great Wall. Native Americans used this form of communication as well and each tribe had their own system. Usually the placement of the signal on a hill would indicate different meanings. Today, smoke signals are still used in Rome to signify when a new Pope has been selected.

Carrier Pigeon

Carrier or homing pigeons are birds that have been bred to find their way home over long distances. Historically, when an army was engaged in a battle, a short message could be written on a small piece of paper which was then inserted into a small metal canister and attached to the leg of a pigeon. The pigeon would be labeled for a certain location and once released with the message, would then return home. The infrastructure that supported this message system required regular deliveries of birds between cities, regular release of the birds so they did not imprint on a new location, and supply of pigeons to armies or other people with time-critical messages.

Message in a Bottle

In the 16th century it was common practice in the military to send information by dropping bottles into the sea. The English Navy for example used bottle messages to send ashore information about enemy positions. Some say that Queen Elizabeth I even created an official position of "Uncorker of Ocean Bottles", and if anyone else were to stumble upon a bottle and open it without permission, they would face the death penalty.


In 1837, two sets of inventors simultaneously developed an electrical telegraph: Wheatstone and Cooke in England, and Samuel Morse in the United States. With the help of an assistant, Morse developed a new signalling alphabet using dots and dashes that became the standard for telegram communication. By 1861, this Morse telegraph system connected the West Coast to the East and put the Pony Express out of business. As technology improved, the telegraph became an audio transponder, where messages were translated based on the interval between two clicks instead of the previously used register and tape.

Pony Express

The Pony Express was a mail delivery service that served communities throughout the Great Plains and across the Rockies in the early 1860’s. Using a series of relay stations, the Pony Express reduced time for messages to travel from coast to coast to just 10 days. It was a vital system for sending notes east to west prior to the birth of the telegraph. Most notably, it helped tie the new state of California to the rest of America.

Balloon Mail

Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail by an unmanned helium or hydrogen-filled balloon. Though the sender is typically unknown, it is an effective way for those within a closed off society to send information or propaganda materials to those on the outside. This method of balloon mail was used by private activists to distribute leaflets to Warsaw Pact countries from West Germany in the mid-1950s and by South Koreans to North Korea discussing the health of Kim Jong-il.


Alexander Graham Bell is commonly credited as the inventor of the telephone, though many individuals contributed to the devices we use today. The concept of the telephone dates back to the non-electric string telephone that has been known for centuries, comprising two diaphragms connected by a wire. Many experimented with this concept, but it was Bell who filed the patent in 1876 for an "apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically"

Fax Machines

Early prototypes of the fax machine have been around since the 1880’s, but they didn’t reach widespread commercial success until 1966, when Xerox introduced the Magnafax Telecopier. The device weighed 46 lbs and sent digital versions of documents through phone lines via a series of dial tones. The fax machine allowed people to send documents across the world in a matter of minutes, replacing courier mail services and telegrams.


Sometimes referred to as a “beeper,” pagers are electronic devices that signal a person with beeps or vibrations when contacted. They tend to be triggered by a phone call and are most often worn at the hip. The wearer will respond to a signal by looking at a small screen on the device for an important message, which is usually in numeric code. These devices were created in 1949, but their first practical uses didn’t come until a paging service was launched for physicians in New York the following year. Physicians paid $12 a month for the service and carried a 6 oz pager that would receive phone messages within 25 miles of a single transmitter tower.

Cell Phones

In 1973, Motorola produced the first cellphone (which weighed 4.4 lbs!) Today, we’ve come a long way from those clunky, oversized devices and people are able to communicate with phones that weigh less than 4 oz and easily slip into their pocket.

Instant Messaging

With the advent of the Internet came “Instant Messaging”, also known as “IM’ing”. ICQ was the first stand-alone instant messenger. The idea of a centralized service with individual user profiles paved the way for later instant messaging services. While many people today use programs like Jabber, Slack, and gchat to communicate via IM, AOL was a pioneer in its field when it launched popular IM tool “AIM” in 1997.


For the past decade, we’ve been using cell phones for much more than just talking. In fact, Americans spend approximately 6 minutes per day talking on the phone, but more than 26 minutes texting. Originally, we had to type out each and every letter according to the numerical keypad on our mobile devices. Then, with the advent of T9, texting speeds increased. Finally, Blackberry and Palm Pilot added the full QWERTY keyboard and we’ve never looked back. Android and iOS devices today offer touch screen keyboards with predictive text and autocorrect capabilities that make it easier than ever to communicate.

Watch the video: Dire Straits-Telegraph Road Live- aLCHEMY Tour 1983 (August 2022).