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Cover image of The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920
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The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920

David Hochfelder

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A complete history of how the telegraph revolutionized technological practice and life in America.

Telegraphy in the nineteenth century approximated the internet in our own day. Historian and electrical engineer David Hochfelder offers readers a comprehensive history of this groundbreaking technology, which employs breaks in an electrical current to send code along miles of wire. The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920 examines the correlation between technological innovation and social change and shows how this transformative relationship helps us to understand and perhaps define modernity.

The...

A complete history of how the telegraph revolutionized technological practice and life in America.

Telegraphy in the nineteenth century approximated the internet in our own day. Historian and electrical engineer David Hochfelder offers readers a comprehensive history of this groundbreaking technology, which employs breaks in an electrical current to send code along miles of wire. The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920 examines the correlation between technological innovation and social change and shows how this transformative relationship helps us to understand and perhaps define modernity.

The telegraph revolutionized the spread of information—speeding personal messages, news of public events, and details of stock fluctuations. During the Civil War, telegraphed intelligence and high-level directives gave the Union war effort a critical advantage. Afterward, the telegraph helped build and break fortunes and, along with the railroad, altered the way Americans thought about time and space. With this book, Hochfelder supplies us with an introduction to the early stirrings of the information age.

Reviews

Reviews

In The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920, David Hochfelder provides a taut and consistently intelligent history of the telegraph in American life. The book is notable for both its topical breadth—encompassing war, politics, business, journalism, and everyday life—as well as its focused, argument-driven chapters.

The author... develops nuanced analyses to the impact of telegraphy on upon American life.

Hochfelder’s work is exemplary in its caution about mediator technology-specific claims to exceptionalism or determinism. This authoritative and persuasive book will remain an essential reference for scholars.

For a quick assessment of telegraphy’s development and impact, this insightful book is hard to beat.

While offering new insights into the relationship between Western Union and Associated Press, Hochfelder's strongest contribution to the history of telegraphy is his analysis of wiring on financial markets and the subsequent spread of speculation and gambling fueled by private wires and telegraph ticker services.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
264
ISBN
9781421421247
Illustration Description
9 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction Why the Telegraph Was Revolutionary
1. "Here the Telegraph Came Forceably into Play"
2. "As a Telegraph for the People It Is a Signal Failure"
3. "There Is a Public Voracity

Acknowledgments
Introduction Why the Telegraph Was Revolutionary
1. "Here the Telegraph Came Forceably into Play"
2. "As a Telegraph for the People It Is a Signal Failure"
3. "There Is a Public Voracity for Telegraphic News"
4. "The Ticker Is Always a Treacherous Servant"
5. "Western Union, by Grace of FCC and A.T.&T."
Conclusion The Promise of Telegraphy
Chronology of the American Telegraph Industry
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

David Hochfelder

David Hochfelder is an associate professor of history at University at Albany, SUNY.