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While the telegraph itself is obsolete today, the technology that it used would ultimately lead to the development of radio and the internet. In order to understand how a new technology has emerged, it is always useful to see where it began and how it changed over the years. The telegraph was the first medium to send information over long distances within minutes. This has never been possible before-- in order to send information prior to the telegraph, the material had to be personally taken from one place and sent (usually on horseback, later by train) to the next place. This could take hours or even days.

But when the telegraph came along, information could travel from one city to another in what was then considered a short amount of time: the 1844 telegraph demonstration conducted by Samuel F.B. Morse took 20 minutes to send a message between Washington DC and Baltimore; sending a message on horseback between these two cities, in an era before super-highways, might have taken over an hour. Within a few years, the transmission time was even faster, and as more telegraph lines were built, messages could be sent over longer and longer distances. This changed the public's expectations, and soon created the demand for even faster technologies.

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Q: Why is the telegraph important today?
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