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History of telegraphy in Europe
The ancient telegraph comprised of drums, mirrors that reflected light and smoke signals. Through several attempts scientists invented a way of conveying messages through a telegraph (Brock 34). The earliest scientists Webster’s defined a telegraph as an equipment or apparatus used in communication at a distance by sending coded signals (Maximilian 12). Samuel Morse came up with the SOS code that is still in use till today (Lewis 45).
He identified this when he went for studies in Europe and on his return he discovered it while communicating with fellow passengers on electricity in the year 1832. He built his first experiment in the year 1843, between Washington and Baltimore, after obtaining a loan from the Congress. It enabled him to send his first message to Chappes system which was “what hath God wrought.”Chappes replied and told him the following “if you succeed you will bask in glory (Gabler 22).”
Bain Alexander and the Royal House made the introduction of the arrival of the patent between 1846 and 1849. This was a more advanced patent since it could send and receive printed messages by using a keyboard at both ends. It was also faster than Morse invention. Although both telegraphs had the same idea of sending messages, the new model used a discolored paper treated with chemicals to give a printed text.
Around 1851 ten different telegraph firms were established in New York. It created much competition among the firms in different cities in Europe. The competition grew stiff that the companies started losing messages without taking responsibility. This led to integration of all the competing companies to form a consolidated industry. Integration and merging of firms took place most between 1853 and 1857 (Maximilian 24).
This led to the formation and signing of the “treaty of six nations” it provided for the six large competing firms to merge together (Brock 47). The last face of integration took place between 1857 and 1866. This is when only two main firms remained namely the American Telegraph Company and the Western Union.
The Western union had an advantage over the competing firm leading to the federal government to respond by introducing legislation bills (Gabler 28). Most of the bills were opposed by the Western Union and the few that passed only helped the Western industry to monopolize the market. The arrival of Jay Gould with his Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph company in 1874 posed great danger to the Western (Lewis 49).
This made the Western Union agree to join hands together with the new company in 1881. A more dangerous competitor arrived in 1880s. This is the Postal Telegraph Company that was headed by John Mackey. He made a network through buying of less economic firms and merging together to form a network with a wide economic scale to create competition against the Western Union although it did not bore much fruits (Maximilian 36).
Transition from Telegraph to Telephone
A transition is a turning point from one face to another. Telegraphs were invented long a way in 1830s. They served people while developing from stage to stage until in 1876 when Alexander Graham introduced the new technology of the bell patents (telephone). It was largely referred to as the talking telegraph (Gabler 36).
The arrival of the new technology posed a lot of pressure on the telegraph owners by over talking through their market. This found the Western Union at cross roads. They had to decide on investing or continue getting more profit from the then flourishing telegraph business. The management made a wrong choice to stick on their telegraph mission without focusing ahead (Brock 56).
The Alexander Graham’s taking telegraph took over the local communication rating up to 97%. This was after the long telephone lines and posts were erected throughout the nation It had had now defeated the telegraph in the local competition (Lewis, 52). The same trend was transferred to the international market where the talking telegraph was highly appreciated by people of all walks of life.
Development time frame
|1837||Wheatstone and cooke patent telegraph in England|
|1838||Electro-magnetic Telegraph patent by Morse approved|
|1843||A message sent from Washington to Baltimore for the first time|
|1846||First Telegraph line from New York to Washington completed|
|Approval of printing telegraph houses|
|1848||Press formed telegraph traffic|
|1849||Approval of Bain’s electro-chemical|
|1851||Sibley Hiram associates combine with Mississippi valley and New York to form Western Union |
Telegraph used to coordinate trains first
|1857||Six nation treaty signed|
|1859||Transat tic cable laid to Ireland and Valencia from Newfoundland|
|1861||Completion of Transatlantic Telegraph (1)|
|1866||Transatlantic is laid (1)successfully|
|Western Union merged together with remaining rivals|
|1867||Inauguration of stock ticker|
|1870||Money order services introduced|
|1876||Bell patents by Alexander Graham, telephone|
|1908||Western Union controlled by AT&T|
|1924||Tele type system offered by AT&T|
|1926||Formation of stock tickers from San Francisco to New York|
|1930||500 words could be printed using high speed tickers|
|1945||Merging of Postal Telegraph Company and Western Union|
|1962||Western Union provided telex for printing internationally|
|1974||Westar satellites put in place by Western Union|
|1988||Western Telecommunication changed to Western Union Cooperation, the company focused on money transfer and loan services|
Telegraph is appreciated for accelerating industrialization in the American states (Brock 34). It also made business dealings easy through sending of messages from one are to another. This mode of communication faced a stiff competition from the telephone until it got faced off (Lewis 58).
The main reason why the telegraph got defeated is that the management preferred financial matters like the money orders (Gabler 47). There are some services that were set by the telegraphs and are still in operation. A good example is the telegram that cost $9.95 for every 250 words. The telephone has really improved its outlook and what gave rise to the current mobile phones (Maximilian 38).
Brock, Gerald W. The Telecommunications Industry: The Dynamics of Market Structure. Harvard University Press, 2001
Coe, Lewis. 2009. The Telegraph, Chicago: SAGE, 2009
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Gabler, Edwin. The American Telegrapher: A Social History, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Maximilian Victor Berthold, History of the Telephone and Telegraph in the Argentine New York: Free press, 2004.