Skip PBS navigation bar, and jump to content.
Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


The Film & More
Film Description
Transcript
Primary Sources
Further Reading
Acknowledgements

Special Features
Timeline
Gallery
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
Primary Sources

return to primary sources index

  Faster Than the Sun
1 of 3
Next

At the end of 1858, the first transatlantic cable had failed, leading a committee of inquiry to investigate the cause. But these short observations from a women's magazine reveal the extent of the telegraph worldwide, and the excitement people felt at being able to communicate with the rest of the globe nearly instantaneously.

Editor's Repository, Items Literary, Scientific, and Religious

Electric Speed
If our globe were entirely encompassed by a metallic thread, such as that already laid down between Europe and America, an electric current could make the tour of it in less than a second; and we can therefore fairly say that communications between the most distant points of the earth would be instantaneous. Such a velocity as this makes the motion of the sun, which it leaves far behind, seem slow; for the sun, in its apparent motion, passes over only about 1,050 miles -- fifteen degrees -- in an hour...

Extent of Telegraph Lines
The Merchants' Magazine says that there are in operation 107,150 miles of telegraphic lines, of which America has nearly as much as the rest of the whole world combined, namely, 45,000 miles. It is estimated that 4,000,000 messages pass over the American lines annually, yielding, probably, a net revenue of $6,000,000. There are nine hundred and fifty miles of submarine telegraph cable now in use, exclusive of the Atlantic cable.

Excerpt from The Ladies' Repository: a Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Literature, Arts, and Religion. Volume 8, Issue 12, December 1858, pp. 734-738. Courtesy of the Making of America Digital Library at the University of Michigan.


  Faster Than the Sun
1 of 3
Next

page created on 11.30.04
Site Navigation

The Film & More: Film Description | Transcript |  Primary Sources |  Further Reading | Acknowledgements

The Great Transatlantic Cable Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

American Experience | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe | Web Credits

© New content 1997-2004 PBS Online / WGBH



The Great Transatlantic Cable American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: