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1840 __ Feasibility of a telegraph line between Dover and Calais
Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875)
Comment : From 1836-7 Wheatstone had thought a good deal about submarine telegraphs, and in 1840 he gave evidence before the Railway Committee of the House of Commons on the feasibility of the proposed line from Dover to Calais. He had even designed the machinery for making and laying the cable. In the autumn of 1844, with the assistance of Mr. J. D. Llewellyn, he submerged a length of insulated wire in Swansea Bay, and signalled through it from a boat to the Mumbles Lighthouse. Next year he suggested the use of gutta-percha for the coating of the intended wire across the English Channel. In 1840 Wheatstone had patented an alphabetical telegraph, or, 'Wheatstone A B C instrument,' which moved with a step-by-step motion, and showed the letters of the message upon a dial. The same principle was utilised in his type-printing telegraph, patented in 1841. This was the first apparatus which printed a telegram in type. It was worked by two circuits, and as the type revolved a hammer, actuated by the current, pressed the required letter on the paper. The introduction of the telegraph had so far advanced that, on 2 September 1845, the Electric Telegraph Company was registered, and Wheatstone, by his deed of partnership with Cooke, received a sum of £33,000 for the use of their joint inventions. In 1859 Wheatstone was appointed by the Board of Trade to report on the subject of the Atlantic cables, and in 1864 he was one of the experts who advised the Atlantic Telegraph Company on the construction of the successful lines of 1865 and 1866. In 1870 the electric telegraph lines of the United Kingdom, worked by different companies, were transferred to the Post Office, and placed under Government control. Wheatstone further invented the automatic transmitter, in which the signals of the message are first punched out on a strip of paper, which is then passed through the sending-key, and controls the signal currents. By substituting a mechanism for the hand in sending the message, he was able to telegraph about 100 words a minute, or five times the ordinary rate. In the Postal Telegraph service this apparatus is employed for sending Press telegrams, and it has recently been so much improved, that messages are now sent from London to Bristol at a speed of 600 words a minute, and even of 400 words a minute between London and Aberdeen. On the night of 8 April 1886, when Mr. Gladstone introduced his Bill for Home Rule in Ireland, no fewer than 1,500,000 words were dispatched from the central station at St. Martin's-le-Grand by 100 Wheatstone transmitters. The plan of sending messages by a running strip of paper which actuates the key was originally patented by Bain in 1846; but Wheatstone, aided by Mr. Augustus Stroh, an accomplished mechanician, and an able experimenter, was the first to bring the idea into successful operation. (Compiled from various sources, Wikipedia)
French comment : Le 6 février 1840, Wheatstone expose devant la Commission des Communes, les moyens à l'aide desquels il serait possible d'établir une communication télégraphique sous-marine de Douvres à Calais. Le câble devait être composé de sept conducteurs en cuivre formant chacun l'âme d'une corde de chanvre bien imbibée de goudron bouilli ; toutes les cordes devaient être tordues ensemble et recouvertes de chanvre préparé de la même manière. En 1844, Wheatstone réalise une expérience en posant un premier câble sous-marin entre un navire et un phare dans la baie de Swansea. Dès lors il travaille sur son projet de liaison transmanche, mais il ne dispose pas encore d'un isolant satisfaisant pour ce câble sous-marin. (Compiled from various sources)

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