How did the telegraph change society?


Quick Answer

The telegraph changed society by facilitating communications among Americans. The telegraph gave Americans the chance to send and receive messages at an unprecedented speed and volume. Professor Samuel Morse, an instructor at New York University, created the first version of the telegraph in the 1830s, and, although well-planned, the device required significant revisions before allowing communications between the East and West coasts and eventually overseas.

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Full Answer

Samuel Morse devised a plan for the telegraph in the late 1700s. However, he first constructed the device in the 1830s, along with the system of Morse code, which assigns sounds to letters of the alphabet. Although many others proposed similar concepts, Morse secured federal funding to continue exploring the field of communication through the telegraph.

After spending nearly a decade working on transmissions and ironing out technical kinks, Morse introduced a working telegraph in 1843. That telegraph allowed users on two ends to send and receive messages, but only operated over short distances.

Seeing the potential in faster communications, others joined the race to improve the telegraph. Western Union staked claim to the first telegraph allowing successful communications between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts in 1861, while rapid improvements in technology allowed delivery and receipt of international messages in the early 20th century. The telegraph replaced mail, which took days and weeks to synthesize communications, before seeing replacement by radio and television.

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