[Telegraph] Samuel F. B. Morse conceived of his version of an electromagnetic telegraph in 1832 and constructed an experimental version in 1835. He did not construct a truly practical system until 1844, when he built a line from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.

This model incorporates basic features of the 1844 receiver. It accompanied an application for a patent, granted in 1849, in which he described a method for marking dots and dashes on strips of paper.

Morse's invention transformed communications almost overnight. Within ten years after the first telegraph line opened, 23,000 miles of wire crisscrossed the country. The development of the telegraph had a significant impact on the development of the West, made railroad travel safer, and allowed businessmen to conduct their operations more quickly and profitably. Very few inventions have had such an immediate and long-lasting impact.

Adapted from America's Smithsonian, Celebrating 150 Years, 1996 Smithsonian Institution

Telegraph Register Patent Model, patented May 1, 1849, patent number 6,420, by Samuel F. B.Morse NMAH

Courtesy of the National Museum of American History, from the U.S. Patent Office.

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