Recovery of the cable on the 'Great Eastern', 1866.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph after Robert Dudley from 'The Atlantic Telegraph', a book by W H Rusell with 26 illustrations by Dudley, published in 1866. In 1866 Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 'Great Eastern' became the first ship to succesfully lay a permanent communications cable acros the Atlantic, following failed attempts in 1858 and 1865. It also managed to repair the abandoned 1865 cable. This illustration shows workers searching for faults after recovering the cable from the bed of the Atlantic on 31 July 1866. The use of cable to relay telegraph mesages reduced communication times from the length of a sea voyage to a few seconds.