The Genesis of Electrical Telegraphy in Germany (1810s – 1840s)
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The Genesis of Electrical Telegraphy in Germany (1810s – 1840s)
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This article aims to analyze the history of emergence and early development of electrical telegraphy in Germany. The themes reviewed here include the studies conducted by the German scientists in the field of electrical telegraphy in the early 19 th century; the making of practical electrical telegraphy in Germany; the construction of the first railroad, military and public telegraph lines; and telegraph equipment manufacturing. It is established that the works of the German scientists carried out in the 1810s – 1830s left a significant mark in the history of science but have not been translated into practice. The situation changed in the 1840s: having started with importing the English technologies (the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph and the use of gutta-percha for wire insulation), the German specialists and entrepreneurs eventually began to export both their products and professionals in the field of electrical telegraphy, and won the Russian market. It is noted that the refusal to patent foreign telegraph equipment helped to boost the inventing initiatives of the Germans engineers and create competitive environment in the country. It was also characteristic for Germany that the telegraph industry was created based on handicraft workshops and, in the 1840s, the telegraph networks were being built and operated by local companies. The findings expounded in this article will be helpful for future studies aiming to reconstruct a comprehensive picture of the history of telecommunications, to analyze Russian achievements in the field of electrical telegraphy in the context of international accomplishments in this field, and to understand why Russia’s telegraph market happened to be monopolized by Siemens & Halske since the 1850s.

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Nina Borisova
A. S. Popov Central Museum of Communications

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