Publisher Information: Washington, D. C. J. and G.S. Gideon, 1845.
Vail, Alfred (1807-59). Description of the American electro magnetic telegraph: Now in operation between the cities of Washington and Baltimore. 24pp. Woodcut text illustrations. Washington: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1845. 221 x 140 mm. Bound with 2 other works on the telegraph in 19th century boards, cloth backstrip, hand-lettered spine label and library label, corners worn. Light toning but very good. Library bookplate.
First Edition. Probably the first publication of the standardized Morse code, the first widely used data code. On May 24, 1844 Samuel F. B. Morse transmitted the first telegraph message ("What hath God wrought?") on an experimental telegraph line strung between Baltimore and Washington D.C., using the version of "Morse code" that became standard in the United States and Canada. The recipient of the message was Albert Vail, Morse's partner in developing the telegraph. Vail, who had worked with Morse since 1837, expanded Morse's original experimental numeric code (based on optical telegraph codes) to include letters and special characters so that it could be used more generally. Vail determined the frequency of use of letters in English by counting the moveable type he found in the typecases of a local newspaper. The code consisted of arrangements of shorter marks ("dots") and longer marks ("dashes"); the letters most commonly used were assigned shorter sequences of dots and dashes. Vail was thus responsible for inventing the most useful and efficient features of Morse code. Vail published the code in 1845 in the present pamphlet and in a 208-page book; the pamphlet most likely preceded the book. This copy of Vail's pamphlet is bound with two other later works on the telegraph: Moses Johnson's A Brief and Simple Explanation of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph (Cincinnati, 1847); and Gardiner G. Hubbard's The Proposed Changes in the Telegraphic System (Boston, 1873). Origins of Cyberspace 208.Book Id: 41173