Cooke and Wheatstone's five-needle telegraph from 1837
A replica of one of Chappe's semaphore towers in Nalbach, Germany
Morse Telegraph
Illustration of signalling by semaphore in 18th-century France. The operators would move the semaphore arms to successive positions to spell out text messages in semaphore code, and the people in the next tower would read them.
Hughes telegraph, an early (1855) teleprinter built by Siemens and Halske
Illustration showing Robert Hooke's proposed system. At top are various symbols that might be used; ABCE indicates the frame, and D the screen behind which each of the symbols are hidden when not in use.
Sömmering's electric telegraph in 1809
Sir Richard Lovell Edgeworth's proposed optical telegraph for use in Ireland. The rotational position of each one of the four indicators represented a number 1-7 (0 being "rest"), forming a four-digit number. The number stood for a particular word in a codebook.
Revolving alphanumeric dial created by Francis Ronalds as part of his electric telegraph (1816)
19th-century demonstration of the semaphore
Pavel Schilling, an early pioneer of electrical telegraphy
The Chappe Network in France
Diagram of alphabet used in a 5-needle Cooke and Wheatstone Telegraph, indicating the letter G
A Chappe semaphore tower near Saverne, France
Morse key and sounder
A replica of an optical telegraph in Stockholm, Sweden
GWR Cooke and Wheatstone double needle telegraph instrument
Diagram of UK Murray six-shutter system, with shutter 6 in the horizontal position, and shutters 1–5 vertical
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.
St. Albans High Street in 1807, showing the shutter telegraph on top of the city's Clock Tower. It was on the London to Great Yarmouth line.
Professor Morse sending the message – WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT on 24 May 1844
Ta' Kenuna Tower, a semaphore tower in Nadur, Gozo, Malta, built by the British in 1848
Foy–Breguet telegraph displaying the letter "Q"
The Semaphore Tower at Khatirbazar, Andul in Howrah district of West Bengal
Wheatstone automated telegraph network equipment
A restored two-arm semaphore post at Low Head in Tasmania
A Baudot keyboard, 1884
The vane positions indicate code numbers
Phelps' Electro-motor Printing Telegraph from circa 1880, the last and most advanced telegraphy mechanism designed by George May Phelps
Restored semaphore in Adanero, Spain.
A Creed Model 7 teleprinter in 1930
Optical telegraph in the harbour of Bremerhaven, Germany
Teletype Model 33 ASR (Automatic Send and Receive)
Former optical telegraph tower on the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Major telegraph lines in 1891
A cartoon strip of "Monsieur Pencil" (1831) by Rodolphe Töpffer
The Eastern Telegraph Company network in 1901
German Lorenz SZ42 teleprinter attachment (left) and Lorenz military teleprinter (right) at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, England

It was the first electrical telecommunications system and the most widely used of a number of early messaging systems called telegraphs, that were devised to communicate text messages more rapidly than by physical transportation. Prior to the electric telegraph, semaphore systems were used, including beacons, smoke signals, flag semaphore, and optical telegraphs for visual signals to communicate over distances of land.

- Electrical telegraph

Half a century later, semaphore lines were replaced by the electrical telegraph, which was cheaper, faster, and more private.

- Optical telegraph
Cooke and Wheatstone's five-needle telegraph from 1837

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A US Navy crewman signals the letter 'U' using flag semaphore during an underway replenishment exercise (2005)

Flag semaphore

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Semaphore system conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands.

Semaphore system conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands.

A US Navy crewman signals the letter 'U' using flag semaphore during an underway replenishment exercise (2005)
The combination used for オ ("O")
A or 1
B or 2
C or 3 Acknowledge / Correct
D or 4
E or 5 Error (if signaled 8 times)
F or 6
G or 7
H or 8
I or 9
J Letters to follow
K or 10
Rest / Space
Numerals (#)
Error / Attention
Cancel / Annul

Semaphores were adopted and widely used (with hand-held flags replacing the mechanical arms of shutter semaphores) in the maritime world in the 19th century.

Although based on the optical telegraph, by the time flag semaphore was introduced the optical telegraph had been entirely replaced by the electrical telegraph some years previously.

Claude Chappe

Claude Chappe

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Claude Chappe
One example of Chappe telegraph tower, in Narbonne, in the south of France.
Chappe's telegraph
Demonstration of the semaphore

Claude Chappe (25 December 1763 – 23 January 1805) was a French inventor who in 1792 demonstrated a practical semaphore system that eventually spanned all of France.

This was the first practical telecommunications system of the industrial age, and was used until the 1850s when electric telegraph systems replaced it.

Foy–Breguet telegraph displaying the letter "Q"

Foy–Breguet telegraph

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Foy–Breguet telegraph displaying the letter "Q"
The Foy–Breguet telegraph code
An operator's manipulator showing the crank handle and notches
Telegraphy over the England–France submarine cable. Foy–Breguet telegraph in the foreground and Cooke–Wheatstone telegraph in the background.

The Foy–Breguet telegraph, also called the French telegraph, was an electrical telegraph of the needle telegraph type developed by Louis-François-Clement Breguet and Alphonse Foy in the 1840s for use in France.

The system used two-needle instruments that presented a display using the same code as that on the optical telegraph of Claude Chappe.