Samuel Morse

Born in 1791, Samuel Morse, the man credited with inventing the telegraph and launching the communication revolution, was originally an artist. His turn to electronics came only after the tragic death of his wife.

Inspired by his Calvinist upbringing, Sam Morse combined his classical training in Renaissance art at the Royal Academy with a unique religious American experience to create pieces that were both political and spiritual.

Dying Hercules by Samuel Morse

Dying Hercules

Morse became such a popular artist that he was commissioned to do portraits of presidents John Adamas and James Monroe, along with technology magnate Eli Whitney.

Tragedy and Turn to Science

While working on a portrait in Washington DC, Morse’s wife fell ill. Before the news could even reach him, his beloved had died and was buried.

Morse was so distraught over the tragedy that he spent the rest of his life working on a way for people to communicate instantaneously.

Partnering with Charles Thomas Jackson–an expert in electromagnetism–Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. This device used a series of on-off tones to carry coded messages vast distances using wire. To translate these messages, he also invented Morse Code, which translated the electric pulses into letters.

“What hath God wrought?” -the first telegram, Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse telegraph

Morse’s telegraph.