On the night of Sunday, 14 April, 1912, at 23:40, the HMS Titanic collided with a submerged iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean four hundred miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Within three hours, the ship would sink and be recalled as the most celebrated maritime disaster prior to the outbreak of the Great War. The peacetime sinking of the unsinkable White Star Line vessel cost 1,517 people their lives, and shocked the world when wireless telegraph news reports of the disaster traveled the globe. By the time the HMS Titanic was launched from Southampton, England, telegraphic communication had developed across Western Europe and North America insofar as it was persistently used for official, commercial, and personal considerations. In fact, it was reported that the steamer Amerika sent a wireless warning at 13:45 on that fateful Sunday warning of large icebergs in the Titanic's path, but the Marconi wireless radio operators were preoccupied sending telegraphs to and from the passengers that non-essential ice messages were neglected and not relayed to the bridge. How did telegraphic communication develop to attain such an impact on modern life?
History is replete with complex signals and systems used to quickly transmit information across geographical space. From the ancient signal towers, homing pigeons and post-horse relays, humankind has engineered the ability to transmit messages across distances to relay news in times of war and peace. George Washington's revolutionary forces utilized semaphore signals during the American Insurrection moving a barrel at the top of a mast, a flag below the barrel, and a basket on a crossarm to various positions, and other systems were paralleled by European nations until the nineteenth century [Oslin, 1992].
[...] Judging by the high contemporary costs of the electric telegraph, or the initial costs of the Internet (or cellular telecommunications specifically, “text messaging”), it is clear that any development in technologies with the promise bring people together” will receive equaled enthusiasm and fascination. References Bektas, Y. (2001). “Displaying the American genius: the electromagnetic telegraph in the wider world,” The British Journal for the History of Science, 199-232. Carey, J. (1992). Communication as culture: essays on media and society. New York, NY: Routledge. Morus, I. R. (2000). nervous system of Britain': space, time and the electric telegraph in the Victorian The British Journal for the History of Science, 455-475. Oslin, G. P. [...]
[...] (1992). The Story of Telecommunications. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. Phillips, R. J. (2000). “Digital Technology and Institutional Change from the Gilded Age to Modern Times: The Impact of the Telegraph and the Internet,” Journal of Economic Issues, 266-289. Pound, R. (1936). Military Telegraph in the Civil Proceedings [...]
[...] Concurrently, the United States government was able to effectively utilize telegraph communications during the American Civil War to relay the results of battles, troop movements, re-supply and other concerns in their battle against the Confederate States of America [Pound, 2001]. In its public utility, the telegraph was able to justify its existence. In its private use, the device failed to provide much advantage over the regular post in order to justify its high cost. Notwithstanding domestic use, the telegraph was financially justifiable when used by large companies to control their outlying offices, and created an immediacy and relevance to the daily newspapers which populated the Western world. [...]
[...] The marvels of the telegraph's invention and the subsequent rapidity of international and domestic communication astounded the public. Coupled with other technological improvements, such as steam power, it produced a growing sensation that peace and prosperity were immanent consequences of scientific and industrial innovation. By the Great Exhibition of 15 October [Figure Frederick Bakewell would introduce a precursor to the modern fax machine by creating an “image telegraph.” Public enthusiasm was clearly marked by these wondrous inventions, ushering in a sense of amazement and confidence in industrial innovations throughout the Victorian era. [...]
[...] While useful in relaying important news and information across the globe, the telegraph certainly became an object of enjoyment and curiosity as well. If Tolstoy's observations are to be followed, sending telegraphic messages became a fad of the wealthy who wanted to participate in the scientific discovery and not necessarily out of a keen interest in the object, or to relay vital information, but for pleasure and amusement. The financial cost of sending telegrams was not only a concern of fictional Russian princesses in world literature. [...]
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