The underwater engineering feat of the 19th century: The transatlantic cable
/ CBS NEWS
Map of the 1858 Atlantic Cable route.
Telegraph Field, Ireland, Site of the earliest message sent from Ireland to America
Heart's Content on the Bay de Verde Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The town was connected by cable to Valentia Island,Ireland.
The driving force behind the transatlantic cable project, Cyrus West Field was a financier who headed the Atlantic Telegraph Company. He formed the company along with John Watkins Brett and Charles Tilston Bright in late 1856.
Eastern grappling hook for lifting the cable.
Pieces of transatlantic cables used in three separate attempts to lay underwater telegraph cable across the Atlantic in 1858, 1865 and 1866.
When she was launched, the iron sailing steam ship SS Great Eastern was the biggest boat in the world. (The ship would later lay cable between India and Yemen.)
HMS Agamemnon, one of the British Navy's first steam-powered battleships, carried 1,250 tons of telegraphic cable en route to her rendezvous in the Atlantic with the USS Niagara in July, 1858, when the two ships joined the ends of their two sections of cable.
1891 Telegraph Lines
Samuel Morse, 1840
The first Samuel Morse telegraph.
The Morse telegraph
Co-inventor of the Cooke-Wheatstone electrical telegraph, Cooke William Fothergill.
Co-inventor of the electrical telegraph, Charles Wheatstone.
Queen Victoria, England's monarch when Europe got connected by underwater cable to North America. She sent a letter of congratulations on the project to President James Buchanan, saying she hoped it would offer "an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem."
James Buchanan, president when Europe and North America got connected by underwater cable. Responding to Queen Victoria's congratulatory cable, he wrote: "It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world."
Cooke and Wheatstone electric telegraph.
The first messages were sent by Morse Code. Considered state-of-the-art at the time, the 1866 cable transmission speed was a whopping eight words a minute
Alfred Lewis Vail is credited with inventing several technical innovations to the Morse code system.
The Atlantic Telegraph Jubilee, New York. [View of the Procession in its progress up the Broadway.] (September 1858)
These days Submarine cables are laid using special cable layer ships, such as this one commissioned by France Telecom.