Alexander Bain, Scottish telegraphic inventor, c 1870s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Pencil drawing of Alexander Bain (1810-1877) who invented the first facsimile equipment for use in communications, the chemical telegraph. It was used for recording ordinary Morse code signals. It was first demonstrated by Bain in 1842, and patented the following year, more than 30 years before the invention of the telephone. The first commercial fax service opened between Paris and Lyon in 1865. He also invented the first electric clock, which used an electromagnet to drive the pendulum, and was the first person to transmit time signals telegraphically. These advances allowed standard time to be adopted throughout the United Kingdom for the first time. Having the same time system acros the country was vital for an efficient railway system. Bain also invented electric fire alarms.