The man responsible for using communication to save thousands of lives, Samuel Morse was born on this day 1791. 180 years ago this year 1838, he demonstrated his telegraph system for the first time, in New Jersey.

You might not know it was two Brits - Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke who pioneered the first practical electric telegraph and on 25th July 1837 exchanged messages for the first time between Camden Town and Euston.

[Read more: 5 amazing facts about the SOS signal]


Photo credit: BT Archives

Two years later on June 20th, Morse received US Patent 1647 for an electronic telegraph for: Improvement in the mode of communicating information by signals in the application of electro-magnetism. Electrical current pushed a magnet through moving paper tape, making an indentation.

Morse worked with another inventor, Alfred Vail, to create the original Morse Code, which could be used to translate the indentations into letters. The indent and the space could be combined to form letters, creating a code language for sending messages electronically.

Photo credit: BT Archives, REX