Tuesday, 2 March 2021


First demonstrated to the public in Paris on this day in 1792, inventor and engineer Claude Chappe (*1763 - †1805) took the principles of flag signalling from the merchant navy and applied them for terrestrial use in a series of communication masts and towers within successive line-of-sight in a network that eventually covered all of France. Operators viewing their neighbouring link through a telescope could pass along the message to the next relay station (see also). Dubbed the télégraphe Chappe, alternately the inventor coined the neologism semaphore—from the Greek σῆμα + φορός, sign-carrying—and was the first practical means of telecommunication of the Industrial Age, in use until replaced by the electric telegraph in the 1850s.