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Author Topic: How far can Telegraph be pushed?  (Read 749 times)
Lazaras
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« on: October 03, 2016, 02:05:28 pm »

I know in thoery, at least according to wikipedia, Baudot was around during the victorian era. I also know the first phones used converted telegrpah lines 'because that's what was there.' I also know that over time it went from a room full of guys at relay stations transferring messages from one line to the next it automated (Which was sorta the birth of AT&T.)

Thing is how far can telegraph technology be pushed? What's the telegraph network' like anyway? Hubs and spokes? Would it be possible for someone to make something not too technologically out there that's more or less 'plug typewriters in instead of telegraph keys, and have ticker tape printout for messages'? Or was that kinda how it ended up going?

I just have this visual of a guy at a local office looking at a feed as it comes out and it's a bunch of holes/dashes punched into a thumb wide piece of paper that's designed to be fed into another machine after dialing in a destination and hitting send, and having been on the job enough he doesn't need to waste ink translating what the punch holes say. Was thinking something like that but with baudot or some other signaling method that has more than essentially four bits to it (short, long, short pause, long pause.)
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2016, 04:58:41 pm »

I figured out how you could make a typewriter where each keystroke would automatically be turned into morse code. I wasn't able to figure out how to change it back though, not mechanically.
I think a lot of telegraphists didn't bother translating though, they knew the message from the dots and lines. Perhaps the telex is sort of what you are after.
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2016, 05:42:25 pm »

Maybe stock ticker technology would shed some light. 
As I understand it, offices were connected to the stockmarket via wires, and the stock ticker translated whatever was sent into letters and numbers on long, narrow strips of paper.  Which were then used in "ticker tape parades."
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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2016, 06:47:43 pm »

The logical follow on from the telegraph key and sounder was the relay- which in effect enabled a weak signal at the end of a long line to automatically key another long line, and so on. This then led to the paper tape ticker, as you say; then the paper tape punch (which ventured into early computers later)that enabled recording and playback of a message with a degree of automation- and gave rise to the TTY or teleprinter (teletypewriter or teletype) that you have imagined.

There is an interesting thread about these machines in this very archive by our own Oldskoolpunk here:-

http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,43672.0.html which is worth a look.

HP
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2016, 07:29:50 pm »

I figured out how you could make a typewriter where each keystroke would automatically be turned into morse code. I wasn't able to figure out how to change it back though, not mechanically.
I think a lot of telegraphists didn't bother translating though, they knew the message from the dots and lines. Perhaps the telex is sort of what you are after.

I would imagine there reverse translation would be possible, using some kind of apparatus that say raises a peg for as long as there is current (to differentiate between dots and dashes) this would then be read a little like the punched cards used to 'program' looms or like the cylinder in a music box to select letters which would then print. Definitely possible just complex.
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Lazaras
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2016, 08:26:02 pm »

The logical follow on from the telegraph key and sounder was the relay- which in effect enabled a weak signal at the end of a long line to automatically key another long line, and so on. This then led to the paper tape ticker, as you say; then the paper tape punch (which ventured into early computers later)that enabled recording and playback of a message with a degree of automation- and gave rise to the TTY or teleprinter (teletypewriter or teletype) that you have imagined.

There is an interesting thread about these machines in this very archive by our own Oldskoolpunk here:-

http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,43672.0.html which is worth a look.

HP


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RJBowman
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2016, 05:31:23 am »

Wikipedia has a history of devices of this type:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleprinter#History

Early devices required a separate telegraph line for each character that could be transmitted. A more advanced device used synchronized print wheels at the sending and receiving locations and printed like a daisy wheel printer, able to transmit one carefully-timed character for each rotation of the wheel.

The first such system to used special codes for each character was invented in 1874 b y Émile Baudot for whom baud rates were named. That was about 30 years before the first practical vacuum tube devices were built, so the device had to have been entirely electromechanical in nature. More information about the machine's workings here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89mile_Baudot#Telegraphy
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Crescat Scientia
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2016, 10:01:44 pm »

I once read what would be later called a science fiction story, written somewhere in the years around 1900, I believe, which involved communication with Mars using a telegraph made from miles of (copper?) cable wrapped around an iron formation in northern Wisconsin.

I have my doubts that it was ever actually feasible, but it was a glorious vision of interplanetary communication in an age where radio was undreamt-of.
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2016, 11:21:10 pm »

I just have this visual of a guy at a local office looking at a feed as it comes out and it's a bunch of holes/dashes punched into a thumb wide piece of paper that's designed to be fed into another machine after dialing in a destination and hitting send, and having been on the job enough he doesn't need to waste ink translating what the punch holes say. Was thinking something like that but with baudot or some other signaling method that has more than essentially four bits to it (short, long, short pause, long pause.)

That's called a "torn-tape message switching center".  Some of those existed into the 1960s.

How did the network work?  Lots of recopying. Manual in the early days, automatic with paper tape in the latter ones. Main lines had Teletype equipment, minor lines had manual Morse. Gradually it all went automated. Watch Telegram for America.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2016, 01:39:06 am »

I once read what would be later called a science fiction story, written somewhere in the years around 1900, I believe, which involved communication with Mars using a telegraph made from miles of (copper?) cable wrapped around an iron formation in northern Wisconsin.

I have my doubts that it was ever actually feasible, but it was a glorious vision of interplanetary communication in an age where radio was undreamt-of.

Radio was entirely dreamt of in 1900, and the apparatus described in the story is a giant version of early coil transmitters and receivers.
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Crescat Scientia
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2016, 01:47:59 am »

I once read what would be later called a science fiction story, written somewhere in the years around 1900, I believe, which involved communication with Mars using a telegraph made from miles of (copper?) cable wrapped around an iron formation in northern Wisconsin.

I have my doubts that it was ever actually feasible, but it was a glorious vision of interplanetary communication in an age where radio was undreamt-of.

Radio was entirely dreamt of in 1900, and the apparatus described in the story is a giant version of early coil transmitters and receivers.

I fear I display my ignorance, then.  I thought I remembered the apparatus as described as a telegraph.
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2016, 05:42:25 am »

Check out the history of the London-to-Karachi telegraph. http://atlantic-cable.com/CableCos/Indo-Eur/

One of the limitations of wire telegraphy is that pulses, particularly DC pulses, have a limited travel distance. As the pulse travels, it deteriorates, spreading out in time (which limits the data rate) and decreasing in amplitude (which limits the distance). This is one of the reasons longer lines have repeaters. The signal has to be reconstituted every so often. (How often depends on a myriad of factors.) One of the reasons for using codes other than Morse is that encodings like HDB3 (google it for diagrams) are more like AC than DC and travel further before deteriorating too far. (Yes, there are similarities between the transmission superiority of AC power over DC power and the communication superiority of codings like HDB3 over simple DC pulses.)
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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2016, 10:16:36 am »


I fear I display my ignorance, then.  I thought I remembered the apparatus as described as a telegraph.

Have no fear- many terms were interchangeable eg Wireless Telegraphy- originally Morse only, it came to cover Voice too, before becoming more known as Wireless Telephony, later Wireless.

HP
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RJBowman
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2016, 04:54:00 pm »

Telegraph repeaters used a device called an electromagnetic relay; basically a switch in one circuit opened or closed by an electromagnet powered by the current of another circuit. The earliest telegraph relays were basically telegraph keys attached to electromagnets:


As it turns out, this device had uses outside of telegraphy; being able to control a strong current with a week current was a very useful  application. It was also possible to use it as a signal reverser; when one circuit is off, the other is on. And these properties allowed early logic circuits to be built from relays.

And that lead to the earliest modern computers, which, contrary to popular believe, were built from relays, and not from vacuum tubes. Alan Turing's famous code cracking Colossus computer was one such machine.

And that may answer the question of how far the telegraph can be pushed.
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oldskoolpunk
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2016, 10:15:58 pm »

I once read what would be later called a science fiction story, written somewhere in the years around 1900, I believe, which involved communication with Mars using a telegraph made from miles of (copper?) cable wrapped around an iron formation in northern Wisconsin.

That's sort of how the U.S. Navy talks to submarines while submerged.
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« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2016, 03:42:59 pm »

I suppose that, if you developed some means to store and reread data, you could have a store-and-forward service. Connect it to a teleprinter, and people could order pages on demand, especially if you can automate the requests (so the machine will retrieve the correct tape and read it off). Call it tele-logging, or tlogging for short.
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« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2016, 10:55:16 pm »

The History of Fax – from 1843 to Present Day
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2016, 03:49:53 am »

Was about to bring up fax.  You can send fax over telegraph lines, and can build fax with Victorian tech.  The maximum bandwidth of telegraph lines would vary depending on details, but with sufficient booster stations should be on par with DSL lines, so you could send images fairly quickly, transfer data about the entire stock market in near real time, etc.
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2016, 11:39:54 pm »

I find it unaccountably delightful that the fax predates the telephone.
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