Samuel Finley Breese Morse, ca 1845 LOC
Cooke and Wheatstone's five-needle telegraph from 1837
Chart of the Morse code 26 letters and 10 numerals
Birthplace of Morse, Charlestown, Massachusetts, c. 1898 photo
Morse Telegraph
This Morse key was originally used by Gotthard railway, later by a shortwave radio amateur
Daguerreotype of Samuel Morse Professor of Art while at NYU in 1839. One of the earliest existing American photographs by Dr John William Draper
Hughes telegraph, an early (1855) teleprinter built by Siemens and Halske
Single needle telegraph instrument
Self-portrait of Morse in 1812 (National Portrait Gallery)
Sömmering's electric telegraph in 1809
Telegraph key and sounder. The signal is "on" when the knob is pressed, and "off" when it is released. Length and timing of the dits and dahs are entirely controlled by the telegraphist.
Dying Hercules, Morse's early masterpiece
Revolving alphanumeric dial created by Francis Ronalds as part of his electric telegraph (1816)
Morse code receiver, recording on paper tape
Jonas Platt, New York politician, by Morse. Oil on canvas, 1828, Brooklyn Museum.
Pavel Schilling, an early pioneer of electrical telegraphy
Comparison of historical versions of Morse code with the current standard. Left: Later American Morse code from 1844. Center: The modified and rationalized version used by Friedrich Gerke on German railways. Right: Current ITU standard.
The House of Representatives. Oil on canvass, 1822, National Gallery of Art.
Diagram of alphabet used in a 5-needle Cooke and Wheatstone Telegraph, indicating the letter G
A U.S. Navy Morse Code training class in 2015. The sailors will use their new skills to collect signals intelligence.
Morse maintained a studio at 94 Tradd St., Charleston, South Carolina, for a short period.
Morse key and sounder
A commercially manufactured iambic paddle used in conjunction with an electronic keyer to generate high-speed Morse code, the timing of which is controlled by the electronic keyer.
GWR Cooke and Wheatstone double needle telegraph instrument
A U.S. Navy signalman sends Morse code signals in 2005.
Portrait of Marquis de Lafayette
A magneto-powered Wheatstone A. B. C. telegraph with the horizontal "communicator" dial, the inclined "indicator" dial and crank handle for the magneto that generated the electrical signal.
Cayo Largo Del Sur VOR-DME.
Portrait of Lafayette
Professor Morse sending the message – WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT on 24 May 1844
Vibroplex brand semiautomatic key (generically called a "bug"). The paddle, when pressed to the right by the thumb, generates a series of dits, the length and timing of which are controlled by a sliding weight toward the rear of the unit. When pressed to the left by the knuckle of the index finger, the paddle generates a single dah, the length of which is controlled by the operator. Multiple dahs require multiple presses. Left-handed operators use a key built as a mirror image of this one.
Original Samuel Morse telegraph
Foy–Breguet telegraph displaying the letter "Q"
Representation of Morse code.
Leonard Gale, who helped Morse achieve the technological breakthrough of getting the telegraphic signal to travel long distances over wire
Wheatstone automated telegraph network equipment
Graphical representation of the dichotomic search table. The graph branches left for each dot and right for each dash until the character representation is exhausted.
Plaque at the first telegraph office
A Baudot keyboard, 1884
Scout movement founder Baden-Powell's mnemonic chart from 1918
Phelps' Electro-motor Printing Telegraph from circa 1880, the last and most advanced telegraphy mechanism designed by George May Phelps
Cover of Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States by Samuel F.B. Morse, 1835 edition
A Creed Model 7 teleprinter in 1930
Morse's "repeater" circuit for telegraphy was the basis for the Supreme Court's holding some claims of Morse's patent valid.
Teletype Model 33 ASR (Automatic Send and Receive)
Effect of repeaters
Major telegraph lines in 1891
Portrait of Samuel F. B. Morse taken by Mathew Brady, in 1866. Medals worn (from wearer's right to left, top row): Nichan Iftikhar (Ottoman); Order of the Tower and Sword (Portugal); Order of the Dannebrog (Denmark); cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain); Legion of Honour (France); Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy). Bottom row: Grand cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain)
The Eastern Telegraph Company network in 1901
Statue of Samuel F. B. Morse by Byron M. Picket, New York's Central Park, dedicated 1871
German Lorenz SZ42 teleprinter attachment (left) and Lorenz military teleprinter (right) at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, England
Morse was honored on the US Famous Americans Series postal issue of 1940.
Coat of Arms of Samuel Morse
Captain Demaresque of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Princeton University Art Museum
Portrait of John Adams
The Gallery of the Louvre 1831–33
Portrait of James Monroe, 5th President of the United States (c. 1819)
Eli Whitney, inventor, 1822. Yale University Art Gallery
Chart of Colors, drawn to illustrate his palette of colors

After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs.

- Samuel Morse

Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, one of the inventors of the telegraph.

- Morse code

He was a co-developer of Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.

- Samuel Morse

The archetype of this category was the Morse system, invented by Samuel Morse in 1838, using a single wire.

- Electrical telegraph

At the sending station, an operator would tap on a switch called a telegraph key, spelling out text messages in Morse code.

- Electrical telegraph
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, ca 1845 LOC

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Replica of Claude Chappe's optical telegraph on the Litermont near Nalbach, Germany


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Long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message.

Long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message.

Replica of Claude Chappe's optical telegraph on the Litermont near Nalbach, Germany
Great Wall of China
Schematic of a Prussian optical telegraph (or semaphore) tower, c. 1835
19th-century demonstration of the semaphore
Cooke and Wheatstone's five-needle, six-wire telegraph (1837)
A Morse key (c. 1900)
An early Cooke and Wheatstone double-needle railway telegraph instrument at the National Railway Museum
A block signalling instrument as used in Britain in the 20th century
Australian troops using a Mance mk.V heliograph in the Western Desert in November 1940
US Forest Service lookout using a Colomb shutter type heliograph in 1912 at the end of a telephone line
A Baudot keyboard, 1884
A Creed Model 7 teleprinter, 1931
Creed paper tape reader at The National Museum of Computing
The first message is received by the Submarine Telegraph Company in London from Paris on the Foy–Breguet instrument in 1851. The equipment in the background is a Cooke and Wheatstone set for onward transmission.
The Eastern Telegraph Company network in 1901
Alexander Bain's facsimile machine, 1850
Marconi watching associates raising the kite (a "Levitor" by B.F.S. Baden-Powell ) used to lift the antenna at St. John's, Newfoundland, December 1901
Post Office Engineers inspect the Marconi Company's equipment at Flat Holm, May 1897
Western Union telegram (1930)
ITT Creed Model 23B teleprinter with telex dial-up facility
An illustration declaring that the submarine cable between England and France would bring those countries peace and goodwill

The electric telegraph started to replace the optical telegraph in the mid-19th century.

This was quickly followed by a different system developed in the United States by Samuel Morse.

The Morse system was adopted as the international standard in 1865, using a modified Morse code developed in Germany in 1848.