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Samuel F. B. Morse

Artist / Inventor

Born: 27 April 1791
Died: 2 April 1872
Birthplace: Charlestown, Massachusetts
Best known as: The telegraphic pioneer who invented Morse Code

Name at birth: Samuel Finley Breese Morse

Samuel Morse began his career as an artist, painting portraits in Boston and New York. But Morse had many talents, and in 1832 he became one of several people interested in finding ways of communicating by sending electrical impulses across a wire -- a concept which became known as the telegraph. Morse developed a dot-and-dash alphabet and devised a practical plan for using telegraphy to send messages across great distances. Morse demonstrated a working model in 1837, and by 1843 had secured government funding to run a line from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, D.C. On May 24, 1844 he transmitted the first telegraph message: "What hath God wrought!" Although he spent years in legal wrangles over telegraph patents, he was finally rewarded for his efforts and lived his later years as a wealthy man.

Extra credit: Morse was also an early photographer and created some of America's first daguerreotypes... The emergency call SOS -- dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot -- is a famous Morse code combination.

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