What Did Joseph Henry Invent?


Quick Answer

Joseph Henry invented the electric telegraph. In 1830 Henry demonstrated the potential of a William Sturgeon device for long-distance communication by sending an electrical current over 1 mile of wire to activate an electromagnet, which caused a bell to strike. Although Henry created the first electric telegraph, other inventors made the telegraph a commercial success.

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Full Answer

Joseph Henry was responsible for much pioneering work in electricity and magnetism. In addition to inventing the telegraph, Henry also contributed to the invention of the electric motor and the telephone through his research. Alexander Graham Bell remarked that without Henry's pioneering research, he might never have invented the telephone.

Joseph Henry also made meteorology into a science and made the first weather map. He issued forecasts of the weather based upon definite knowledge rather than signs. He also improved maritime lights and fog signals.

Henry's inventions weren't the result of any particular drive or obsession to invent. Henry was a scientist and researcher, and his inventions were a by-product of his scholarship. Henry was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., in 1839. He was made chief executive officer of the newly opened Smithsonian Institution in 1846 and held that position until his death in 1878.

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