1809 __ Electro-dynamic telegraph with voltaic & chemical means
‣ Comment : Sommering, a distinguished Prussian anatomist and scientist, in 1809 brought out a telegraph worked by a voltaic battery, and making signals by decomposing water;, he sent messages for 2 miles (Journal Franklin Institute, 1859, Vols. XXXVII and XXXVIII, p. 398; Journal Society of Arts, Vol. VII, p.235). In 1809 the Munich Academy of Science received a paper from an inventor called Samuil Thomas von Sommering that described a telegraph containing thirty-five wires, one for each letter of the (German) alphabet and one for each number. At the transmitting end, arrangements were provided for passing currents through any one of the wires. At the receiving end the electrodes were immersed in acidulated water. Completing the circuit caused bubbles of hydrogen to form in tubes, each one corresponding to a letter or a number. Thus Sommering developed telegraph of 35 wires (one for each number and letter). So in using water in place of wires to conduct the current for telegraphic purposes, Sommering found that when the conducting wires were cut and the ends separated by an interval of water in wooden tubs, the current completed the circuit exactly as though the wires had not been cut. It was further found that the signals ceased when the water in the tubs was connected by a wire. As two separate bodies of water are not often to be found together in natural conditions, Sommering came to believe that his suggested method was impractical. Although his system had thus only a brief life, it was the earliest practical method proposed for wireless communication. Two years later it was greatly simplified by Schweigger, of Halle: he proposed a considerable diminution in the number of signals, by employing two batteries of different powers, and reduced the number of wires to two. About the same time also, Professor Coxe, of Philadelphia, devoted much time to the subject, and confidently predicted the future access of the electric telegraph. Many other experiments were soon to follow: Wheatstone, Weber and Karl Friedrich Gauss tried to further develop Sommering’s idea in a product that could be mass-distributed, but their efforts were without success. During March 1812 this instrument carried intelligence 10,000 feet, or ten times the distance previuosly reached. There is reason to believe that but for the discovery of electro-magnetism by Oersted, in 1824 the chemical telegraph would have come into practical use. (Compiled from various sources)
‣ Source : Munro, John (1891), “Heroes of the Telegraph”, Published by BiblioBazaar, 2008, Chapter 1, p. 17, and Published by Icon Group International Inc (Webster’s French Thesaurus Edition), pp. 8-9.
‣ Source : MacGeorge, G. (1894), "Ways and Works in India : being an account of the public works in that country from the earliest times up to the present day", A. Constable, p.498.
‣ Source : Fleury Mottelay, Paul (1922), “Bibliographical History of Electricity and Magnetism, Chronologically Arranged”, Read Books (2008), pp. 406-407.
‣ Urls : http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/tech/engineering/HeroesoftheTelegraph/chap1.html (last visited )
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