Samuel F B Morse, American artist and the inventor of Morse code, c 1850s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) was born in Charlestown, Masachusetts, United States and was a trained portrait painter. He was also a keen inventor, and in 1832 conceived the idea of a magnetic telegraph using a single wire system, which he exhibited to Congres in 1837. He created a dot and dash code for sending mesages which used different numbers representing the letters in the English alphabet and the ten digits, and became known as Morse code. In 1844 an experimental telegraph line was completed between Washington and Baltimore and Morse sent the first historical mesage: 'What hath God wrought?'.