1816: The world's first electric telegraph
While researching the article on the Doves Press I discovered that across the alley, right next door to William Morris's Kelmscott House, is the site of the first electric telegraph. This can be said to be the start of electronic communication, exactly one hundred years before Cobden-Sanderson destroyed the Doves Type and two hundred years before the Internet of Things. It now forms part of the meeting premises for the William Morris Society and was once the lecture room of the Hammersmith Socialists of which Morris was a leading member.
In 1816 inventor Francis Ronalds created the first electronic telegraph. It was a primitive device which sent messages through eight miles of wire arranged in his garden at The Retreat in Upper Mall, Hammersmith. The wire was enclosed in glass tubing and buried in trenches running around the garden. According to Wikipedia:
At both ends there were clockwork operated dials with numbers and letters of the alphabet. Without patenting it, he offered his electrical telegraph to the British government where his invention was rejected. Many telecommunications technologies such as Ronald's electrical telegraph were not necessary for governments at the time and therefore many were never pursued. He contacted the secretary of the Admiralty, Mr. Barrow, on the 11th of July describing his invention as "a mode of conveying telegraphic intelligence with great rapidity, accuracy, and certainty, in all states of the atmosphere, either at night or in the day, and at small expense", but they were not interested at that time saying "telegraphs of any kind are now wholly unnecessary."
The mind boggles.
Ronalds was knighted in 1870. The Retreat was renamed Kelmscott House by William Morris in 1878 after his country home, Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire.
Photographs: Mike Evans