Sir Charles Wheatstone, English physicist, c 1850.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) was a pioneer of electric telegraphy. In 1837, together with William Fothergill Cooke (1806-1879), he patented the five-needle telegraph machine, the first succesful electric telecommunication device. Initially used on the newly developing railways, by 1938 it was also sending public telegrams. Wheatstone also designed the ABC telegraph, a system used by the Post Office for several years, and also systems in Belgium and France. He was knighted in 1868.