Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings. Alfred Vail.
Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.
Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.
Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.
Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.
Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.

Description of the American Electro Magnetic Telegraph : Now in Operation between the Cities of Washington and Baltimore. Illustrated by Fourteen Wood Engravings.

Washington D.C.: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1845. 8vo, printed self-wrappers. 24 pp., 14 wood engravings.

Likely the first publication of the standardized Morse code—the first widely used modern data code.

First Edition. This important pamphlet was published by Alfred Vail (1807–1859) after the successful test of a Congressionally approved experimental telegraph line spanning from Baltimore to Washington D.C. On 24 May 1844, Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) transmitted the momentous first telegraph message—“What hath God wrought?”—through the telegraph line, using the version of “Morse code” that later became standardized in both America and Canada. On the receiving end was Vail, Morse’s associate in developing the telegraph. Having worked with Morse since 1837, Vail imported letters and special characters into Morse’s original experimental numeric code (which was based on optical telegraph codes) such that it could be used more generally. Vail is credited for having created the most useful and efficient aspects of the code by determining the frequency of use of letters in the English language. Vail published the code in 1845 in both the present pamphlet and also in a 208-page book, American Electro Magnetic Telegraph (advertised here on the back-cover); the pamphlet is generally thought to have preceded the book. Wood engravings show schematic drawings of all aspects of the telegraph and the application of the code.

The front-cover features a quotation from 1845 by the Representative of Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representatives:

“The same principle which justified and demanded the transference of the mail on many chief routes, from the horse-drawn coach on common highways to steam impelled vehicles on land and water, is equally potent to warrant the calling of the electro magnetic telegraph—that last and most wondrous birth of this wonder-teeming age—in aid of the post office, in discharge of its great function of rapidly transmitting correspondence and intelligence.”

REFERENCES: Sabin 98292; Howes V5; Hook, Origins of Cyberspace 208: “One of the earliest printings of the 1844 revision of Morse's telegraphic code, which, under the name ‘American Morse,’ became the standard code for use within the United States and Canada.”

CONDITION: Light soiling and spotting, loss to lower right corner of front cover reinstated in facsimile, loss to lower right corner of title-page reinstated with remaining loss of first words in last eight lines of text on p. 2.

Item #5119

Price: $900.00

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