Samuel F. B. Morse, an American inventor, holds the most important place in the development of the telegraph. Although Wheatstone and Cooke in England occupied a distinct place in this field, the telegraph system invented by Morse in 1837 is the one that is almost universally used, except for railroad work, to which the needle instruments of the Englishmen are peculiarly adapted.

Morse was assisted in the practical and mechanical development of the telegraph by Alfred Vail, an uncle of Theodore N. Vail of more recent telephone and telegraph fame. It was, moreover, through the financial assistance of Alfred Vail's father that Morse was able to put up the first experimental line. The telegraph today, in connection with the cable which was perfected some time later, reaches practically every civilized portion of the world, gives employment to thousands of men and women, and renders service to millions of others.