The Morse code, 1830s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) was an American artist who turned to invention in 1832 when a fellow passenger on an Atlantic crossing demonstrated some electrical apparatus acquired in Europe. By the end of 1832, he had developed the three basic concepts of telegraphy: a transmitting apparatus based on the interruption of an electric circuit; a receiving apparatus using an electromagnet to operate a pen on a moving strip of paper; and a code for translating the signals into numbers and letters (which became known as Morse code). Illustration from 'Electricity and Magnetism' by Amedee Guillemin (1826-1893), published in London in 1891.