J.B. Lindsay telegraph diagram

Other systems of telegraphic communication were being experimented with during the 19th century and these included three methods which did not use wires to connect the transmitting and receiving points. In 1843, Samuel Morse successsfully transmitted across the Susquehanna River using the river itself as the conductor rather than wires, and similar wireless experiments sending signals through water by conduction were later made by several other investigators including J.B. Lindsay who used the river Tay at Dundee in Scotland. Lindsay’s work subsequently came to the attention of William H. Preece and sparked off a great interest in the subject of communication without wires. In 1870 Preece was appointed Divisional Engineer to the General Post Office and later (in 1892) became Engineer-in-Chief, and in that capacity he ultimately sponsored the young Guglielmo Marconi when he came to England with an improved system of wireless telegraphy.


Telegraph between Ireland & England

Having begun a wired telegraph on land, it was inevitable that experimenters were drawn towards laying lines to places overseas. In 1851, the first successful undersea telegraph cable was laid across the English Channel and from its inauguration on November 13th it continued in public service for the next twenty four years. Links were also made between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, England and Holland, Scotland and Ireland (1852 between Holyhead and Howth).


Transatlantic cable Ireland & USA

The success of these short distance cables inspired thoughts of linking the American and European Continents, although the bulk of scientific and commercial opinion was at first very much against such a scheme, laying some 2,000 miles of continuous cable seemed far too big an undertaking and fraught with potential disasters. However, after a short-lived triumph in 1858 (the cable parted within a few months) success came in 1866 when more permanent sub-marine links were established with the laying of the cable between Ireland and Newfoundland. Over the next few years undersea telegraph cables were being laid all around the world and they revolutionised the transmission of public, private and commercial communications between the continents.

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