May 24, 1844: Samuel Morse opens a telegraph line connecting Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
Samuel Morse developed the electric telegraph and his eponymous code in 1836; by 1843, the U.S. government had appropriated to him $30,000 for the construction of an experimental 61 km telegraph line that would run from Washington D.C. to Baltimore – this line was completed in early 1844. It officially opened on May 24, 1844, when Morse sent the words “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quote from the Book of Numbers) from the Capitol to Baltimore. By 1861, telegraph lines spanned the continent, connecting the East and West coasts and rendering most other forms of communication obsolete.
Morse’s 1844 telegraph transmitted messages at a speed of thirty characters per minute, a speed that is simulated above. As telegraphs became more advanced (and operators more skilled), much higher transmission speeds were made possible as well.