Great Inventions of the 19th Century
Postal services and telecommunications
For the first time in human history this device made distant communication possible.
The telegraph had been an established means of communication since the 1840s. The first telegraph model had been invented by Claude Chappe at the end of the 18th century. Althought its use was not limited to the military context, the telegraph was well known as an instrument for fast communication during military campaigns. Napoleon was the first to understand the military importance of telegraph, and the Crimean War was the background for its use by all the parties involved. The discovery of the electromagnetic phenomenon in 1828 resulted in major achievements in the field of electric communications. However, it was Samuel Morse’s improvements that made the telegraph system become both practical and commercially viable in 1835. Morse invented a system of dots and dashes to transmit communication electrically, which came to be known as Morse Code. This system was modified later to become the International Code. Telegraph was the predominant tool of communication until Bell, while working on improving the telegraph, invented the telephone by which not codes but speech was transmitted electrically in 1877.
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Postal services and telecommunications

Post offices
Telephone networks and telephones
Télégraphe de jour et de nuit présenté au ministre par un officier de la marine et adopté par le service des signaux de côtes (1802)


National Library of France, Paris, France


Napoleon I promoted the use of telegraph in the territories he conquered. In his military campaigns, he recognised the importance of technical innovations.

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Innovative technologies
Postal services and telecommunications
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