What Hath God Wrought? The Birth of Telecommunications

Samuel Morse is where telecommunications all began. He invented the telegraph and created the Morse code. An 1810 graduate of Yale, Morse was also an accomplished artist who founded and presided over the National Academy of Design for two decades.

But he’s best know for the telegraph.

Initially, Morse had little interest–or financial backing–for his innovation. Despite naysayers and critical voices, Morse believed in his telegraph machine. Finally, in 1843, the U.S. Congress funded telegraph lines between the Supreme Court chamber in the U.S. Capitol and Baltimore.

On this date in 1844, Samuel Morse asked a young girl to pick a Bible verse to send as the first telegraph message. She chose Numbers 23:23, which stated in part: “What hath God wrought?” And with that message, a new era dawned. The clicks of Morse’s telegraph machine reimagined how humans communicated.

During the Civil War, the telegraph proved invaluable to Lincoln’s Federal troops, as they were able to faster position and communicate orders than the Confederate armies. Three decades later another inventor named Alexander Graham Bell would take Morse’s invention one step further: moving the human voice down the line.

No one could imagine “what God hath wrought” in 1844, when the telegraph punched out its first line of text, but 177 years later it’s clear that everything from the telephone to television to the Internet sprouted from Samuel Morse’s telegraph.

What God hath wrought, indeed!

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