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Author Topic: How Napoleon's semaphore telegraph changed the world  (Read 2786 times)
N8FNR
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« on: June 17, 2013, 03:20:56 AM »

Very interesting story about a visual telegraphic system invented in France

"Napoleonic semaphore was the world's first telegraph network, carrying messages across 18th Century France faster than ever before. Now a group of enthusiastic amateurs are reviving the ingenious system."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22909590

Zack
N8FNR
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W1JKA
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 03:51:38 AM »

Also very detailed development,use and operation of this system throughout European/Baltic coastal regions described in the popular Patrick O'Brien (Aubrey-Maturin) series novels for those interested in early British Naval history.If you saw the movie" Master and Commander" you would see one of these stations in operation.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 03:55:01 AM by W1JKA » Logged
KB1WSY
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 04:20:50 AM »

Thank you for sharing that link.

IIRC the French semaphore is described in "The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers" by Tom Standage, a book published in 2007. I can't seem find my copy (must have lent it to someone) but it's an excellent read, despite the somewhat contrived title. I spent my early childhood in France and perhaps only in that country could the full-scale, highly centralized, government-run, visual semaphore with its nationwide network of relay stations have been created at that time in history, although there were similar, more limited systems in some other countries. The book also covers some of the numerous different early telegraph systems, using needle indicators and other methods, including the British Wheatstone system, which were eventually superseded by the Morse system.

I believe that in the UK remnants of the British semaphore system can be glimpsed in placenames such as "Semaphore Hill" (I hope I remembered that right).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 04:30:51 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
WX7G
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 10:32:06 AM »

The French semaphore played an important part in the book The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 03:37:39 PM »

I got "The Victorian Internet" book back from the person who'd borrowed it. There are several pages describing the semaphore systems in Europe (although they were actually called *telegraph* at the time). That section concludes as follows: "... by the mid-1830s, lines of telegraph towers stretched across much of western Europe, forming a sort of mechanical Internet of whirling arms and blinking shutters, and passing news and official messages from one place to another. The continental network eventually reached from Paris to Perpignan and Toulon in the south, Amsterdam in the north, and from Brest [Western France] in the west to Venice in the east, with other networks in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Britain bringing the total number of telegraph towers in Europe to almost a thousand."

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WX7G
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 03:54:25 PM »

They worked fine until the fog rolled in.
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KZ1X
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 01:39:13 PM »

The Arapaho used smoke signals 500 years before this ... and the Greeks had a torch-pattern hilltop messaging system in 150 BC ...

 Cool
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K0YQ
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 05:15:28 PM »

Thanks for the interesting link.
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W2EJG
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2013, 08:20:04 AM »

The signaling system became the Reuters news service, still in business today. It signaled the British victory at Waterloo and made the Rothschilds a boatload of money
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