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Electrical Innovations

The dawn of the electrical age began in 1800, the year that an Italian scientist named Volta invented the electrical battery. The electrical current provided by batteries led to a series of discoveries. These discoveries culminated in the invention of three great electromagnetic networks: the telegraph network, the telephone network, and the power grid.

The electrical battery ignited a series of discoveries during the first four decades of the century (1800 –- 1840). During the next two decades (1840 –- 1860) the telegraph network was established. Samuel Morse, an American inventor, developed a way to send coded messages through the telegraph network. The code uses two signals: a long and short click. Using this system, message can be sent through the network and decoded at the receiving end. At the end of this time, more than 15,000 miles of telegraph wire crossed the United States. The telegraph system changed our culture and society in multiple ways. It made national news and weather forecasting possible through the news wire service. It influenced the course of the Civil War by allowing generals to communicate faster across long distances instead of relying on couriers traveling by horseback (feel free to change this!).

Even more importantly, the telegraph system led to the invention of two other nineteenth century networks:  the telephone network and the power grid. Invention of these networks then led to the invention of modern electronics, making the  invention of computers possible. Inventors like Edison who worked in the telegraph system learned about electrical current, circuits, and switches. Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park was the culmination of a journey that began with experiments designed to improve the telegraph system.

By following in the footsteps of these inventors and reconstructing their electrical devices you will gain skills and experience that will allow you to design your own inventions: electronic games, innovative toys, electronic wearables and other electronic inventions.