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09 Apr

As of January 2014, the Distant Writing website has been archived for preservation by the British Library.

is the history of all of the domestic public telegraph companies formed in Britain from 1838 to 1868, as well as of their associated cable companies.

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It is the curious and complex story of his Universal Private Telegraph Company, and its competitors, as it ventured from private networks with switch-boards and exchanges into public telegraphs, telemetry, time transmission, exploders for mining and warfare, the development of secret submarine weapons and the introduction of the ‘unbreakable’ cipher machine, the Cryptograph, used by the Queen’s household, the government, the police and the Emperor of the French. Revised in June 2012, this page also now includes the stories of other concerns in the private telegraph business, especially, and for the first time, the work of the London District Telegraph Company which pioneered large-scale, closed private networks: Bain - Revised and extended again in June 2012, this is the most comprehensive perspective on the achievements and disappointments of Alexander Bain in telegraphy during the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s, including the short-lived Electric Time Company, accompanied by many engravings of his early instruments; Non-Competitors - A summary of the many individuals and unsuccessful firms involved in public telegraphy, optical and electrical, who tried and failed, including the first of all, the Voltaic Telegraph Company of 1838, as well as the Liverpool & Holyhead Telegraph, the General Telegraph Association, the Marine Telegraph Association, the Scottish Electric Telegraph Company, the General Oceanic Telegraph Company, the General Commercial Telegraph Company, the General Telegraph Company, the Universal Electric Telegraph Company, and the Globe Telegraph Company; describing, too, S F B Morse’s embarrassing attempt to enter the field in London during 1845; How the Companies worked - The story in some detail of their relationship with the public, their marketing, their staff, systems and processes, including the introduction of “electric banking” in the 1860s, with new descriptions of the earliest telegraph codes, and additional personal memoirs and articles on telegraph working in Britain in the 1840s and 1850s; What the Companies charged - An explanation of how their complex pricing evolved and eventually simplified, and their price fixing cartel of 1855; The Companies and the News- The first and wholly original story of the initial electronic news-gathering organisation of 1848, created by the Electric Telegraph Company, its competitors, the enmity of the press to telegraphy and the arrival of Reuter; The Companies and the Weather - The incidental story of how the telegraph enabled weather forecasting; The Companies Abroad- A summary of how the domestic telegraph companies and the new cable companies eventually conquered the oceans, especially the route to India, and the East India Company's lines, with a brief comparison of how their stock market prices boomed in the 1860s; The Companies’ Foreign Operations - An explanation of their overseas pricing and their technical problems, and how telegram agencies sought to undermine their pricing with all manner of tricks; - The story of the first field telegraph, designed by the Electric Telegraph Company for the campaign in the Crimea in 1854; the unique Crimea submarine cable connecting the front with London; and the subsequent use of the telegraph by the British Army and by other countries at war, including France, Spain and Prussia, until 1868; Technical Detail - A mass of detail that attempts to explain the technology, public and private, used by each telegraph company between 18, and connected devices such as batteries, blasting machines, and burglar and fire alarms.

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From when it was launched in 1846, its early crises and eventual domination in its domestic market, to its contribution to the success of the world-wide cable network after it had become the Electric & International Telegraph Company in 1855.

Detailing for the first time its efforts to create a global communications network from London to Calcutta in the 1850s and 1860s, dating from the original scheme for a cross Channel cable in 1847 to planning, in 1863, its own system in British India, using its alliances with Prussia and Russia to connect London with Bombay and Calcutta.