Friday, October 14, 2016

The Victorian Internet

The Victorian Internet:  The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers by Tom Standage
NY:  Walker and Company, 1998
ISBN 0-8027-1342-4

(46)  … a bill was finally proposed allocating $30,000 toward building an experimental [telegraph] line” for Samuel FB Morse, December 1842, from the USA government

(62)  “the Prussian method of burying wires beneath the surface protects them from destruction by malice, and makes them less liable to injury by lightning.”  1852

(77)  The Atlantic Telegraph Company was duly set up, and [Cyrus W] Field persuaded the British and United States government to back his project;  in return for an annual subsidy and the provision of ships to help lay the cable, offical messages would be carried free of charge. ~1857

(81)  August 5, 1858 celebrating the Transatlantic cable
Torch-bearing revelers in New York got so carried away that City Hall was accidentally set on fire and narrowly escaped destruction.

(84)  That first cable stopped working on September 1, less than a month after its completion

(136)  Ellen Cheever Thayer’s 1879 novel Wired Love built its plot around an on-line courtship

(142)  Edison, courting his second wife, Mina:  “I taught the lady of my heart the Morse code, and when she could both send and receive we got along much better than we could have with spoken words by tapping out our remarks to one another on our hands.”
NB:  Stepan and Kitty in Anna Karenina

(143)  He [Edison] preferred to take the night shift so he could spend the day experimenting in a back room at the telegraph office, and he lived on a frugal diet of apple pie washed down with vast amounts of coffee.

(179)  … Edison locked his workforce in the workshop until they had finished building a large order of stock tickers, with “all the bugs taken out.”
NB:  How old is bug?
Here's an extract of a letter he [Edison] wrote in 1878 to Theodore Puskas, as cited in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006):
'Bugs' -- as such little faults and difficulties are called -- show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.

Word nerds trace the word bug to an old term for a monster -- it's a word that has survived in obscure terms like bugaboo and bugbear and in a mangled form in the word boogeyman.

(203)  [Charles] Wheatstone [one of the inventors of the telegraph] invented the stereoscope and the concertina

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