Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875), William Fothergill Cook (1806-1879) When we think of a telegraph system, we probably think of a person in an office tapping Morse code messages on a key, and receiving messages with a clicking metal bar. This arrangement, developed by English inventor William Fothergill Cook and scientist Charles Wheatstone in 1837, was the first telegraph implementation to be put into commercial service. Many arrangements came before and after, but this one dominated for several reasons. Most importantly, it was incredibly simple. All you needed at each end was a key - essentially a switch — a sounder, an electromagnet that makes clicking noises, a single wire, and a battery. The earth was used as a second wire to complete the battery circuit. That simplicity meant it did not cost much to set up, and it was extremely reliable. Once the basic system was in place, networks rapidly developed. The single wire had to go somewhere, and poles with glass insulators were the preferred place because they were inexpensive and easy to build. The poles went up along railroad tracks because it was an easy place to put them. Most train stations therefore had a telegraph office, and anyone in a town with a telegraph station could communicate with the rest of the world Imagine what would happen to a civilization that suddenly, for the first time, had the easy ability to communicate over long distances. A message that might have taken several days or a week to get through by letter on horseback could now get through in a minute. During the Civil War, for example, the telegraph was a huge game changer for the North because messages could get to and from many battlefields almost instantly. President Lincoln himself could be found in the telegraph office getting instant information. It was much easier to move troops and supplies around with good communications in place. Engineers found ways to insulate wires with gutta-percha and undersea telegraph cables soon followed. Engineers shrank the world. >The telegraph represented an unprecedented ability to communicate over long distances.