Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

Optical telegraphy
(899 words)

1. Origins

Optical telegraphy refers to techniques of transmitting messages across distances by visual means ( News). Its history runs from forms of simple signaling (e.g. beacons) to large-scale, systematic networks of mechanical telegraph apparatuses. The invention of the telescope in the 17th century inspired the first discussions of long-distance communication. In a 1616 treatise, Franz Kessler proposed using a telescope to read code numbers off a “number plate” (“Ziffer Täffelein”) at a distance […

Cite this page
Beyrer, Klaus, “Optical telegraphy”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 30 January 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_025028>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20200721

▲   Back to top   ▲