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Morse, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, Samuel Finley Breese (1791-1872)

Samuel Morse is famed as the creator of Morse code and was also telegraph's greatest promoter.

Morse was a well-off, well-connected artist, who had also studied chemistry and philosophy at Yale University before becoming intrigued by the telegraph. Telegraphy still needed complex wiring and he wanted a way to send messages using only one wire instead of five.

He developed a 'language' that translated letters of the alphabet and numerals into individual code 'symbols' that could travel down the same wire one after the other and be printed out at the receiving end; these formed the basis of Morse Code. In 1844, he sent his first public message, which read: 'What hath God wrought!' The subsequent development of a sounder device meant that his dots and dashes could be 'read' by ear as well as visually on paper.

Morse was extremely sociable, married twice and had many children. His invention made him popular and wealthy and he gave generously to charity, especially poor artists.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...