It is only thanks to the genius of Guglielmo Marconi that telegraphy "takes off"...
Thank you for making me smile, Carlo. I guess it is a natural human trait to reflect as much as possible of past glory onto oneself or one's own. Almost half of the book Lightning Man. The accursed life of Samuel F. B. Morse
by Kenneth Silverman is an account of that trait, documenting the many attempts by the persons (or: egos) involved in the invention, implementation and commercialization of electromagnetic telegraphy to make themselves be The
only rightful inventor, beneficiary, genius behind the idea. I cannot even begin to list names and occasions when and to what degree this happened, and the mere fact that Marconi is not once mentioned, despite the book spanning a time into the 21st century, is only witness to this, not allowing him the honor of having added a novel dimension to the concept.
Vail's share of inventing the dotdash code has already been commented on. Read that book to understand where such claims are coming from to be able to give them their due weight.
Nevertheless, and not debating who is the real inventor of telegraphy, the code, or any of the related inventions and improvements, the book does deliver a credible account of telegraphy taking off decisively and inestimably at least in the second half of the 19th century, so, some 50 years before Marconi's wireless extension. By then, literally all continents of the world were connected by cable and using electromagnetic telegraphy to communicate across borders and without time constraints.
That said, I, as a code addict, was disappointed that wireless telegraphy never made it into that book. But the very last paragraph of the biography, on page 445, does point out how the code is still alive and kicking:
“In the new millennium, the code continues in use among radio amateurs. It is being revived as a means of communication for persons who have little or no ability to move, or who cannot speak or sign—who are ventilator-dependent or who suffer from severe cerebral palsy or some other devastating impairment.”
Thank you, Carlo, for your dedication and time spent to write and publish your book. I shall read some more of it after I work my way through two volumes of Morse's letters and journals, edited and supplemented by his son Edward Lind Morse. If I find anything giving credit to Marconi or shedding light on the Vail vs. Morse controversy, I shall add it here.
73 de Arno K7RNO