First Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Message

August 16, 2011 | posted in: Tech Chronicles | by

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 16, 1858

The First Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Was Sent from Queen Victoria to President Buchanan

The first official telegraph message was sent across the Atlantic Ocean from London to the US.

The transatlantic telegraph cable,  the first cable used for telegraph communications, laid across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It crossed from the Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, in western Ireland to Heart’s Content in eastern Newfoundland. The transatlantic cable connected North America and Europe, and expedited communication between the two. Whereas it would normally take at least ten days to deliver a message by ship, it now took a matter of minutes by telegraph.

Queen Victoria sent the first official telegraph message to President Buchanan in Washington, DC, following 10 days of test messages. The transmission began at 10:50am and was completed at 4:30am the next day, taking nearly 18-hrs to reach Newfoundland. With 99 words, consisting of 509 letters, it averaged about 2-min per letter.

President Buchanan and Queen Victoria were delighted with the speed of communicating via the telegraph.  Imagine what they would think about the speed of today’s text messaging, IMing, and emailing!

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