Know anything about morse code? If not, read on ...
Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born April 27, 1791, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He attended Yale University, where he was interested in art, as well as electricity, still in its infancy at the time. After college, Morse became a painter. In 1832, while sailing home from Europe, he heard about the newly discovered electromagnet and came up with an idea for an electric telegraph. He had no idea that other inventors were already at work on the concept.
Over the next few years, private companies, using Morse’s patent, set up telegraph lines around the Northeast. In 1851, the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was founded; it would later change its name to Western Union. In 1861, Western Union finished the first transcontinental line across the United States. Five years later, the first successful permanent line across the Atlantic Ocean was constructed and by the end of the century telegraph systems were in place in Africa, Asia and Australia.
Over the course of the 20th century, telegraph messages were largely replaced by cheap long-distance phone service, faxes and email. Western Union delivered its final telegram in January 2006.
Clancy's comment: My father made me one of these sets when I was a kid, and I sent thousands of messages to imaginary people. Maybe that's why I became a fiction author.