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The Jolt Of Electricity That Forever Altered Warfare
In the wake of the Civil War, there were many legacies left by Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, with the abolition of slavery and the foundation of a national American identity at the front of most people’s lists.
But another less well-known contribution was his use of the telegraph.
While this new technology altered news, finance, war, and greatly impacted at least one man’s presidency, Lincoln can only take credit for seeing its potential, not for creating it.
With a jolt of power that ran through two miles of wire, Samuel Morse and his colleagues, Leonard Gale and Alfred Vail, sent the first electronic message on Jan. 6, 1838. They successfully created the telegraph and with it, Morse code.
Gathered at Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey, a small crowd watched the world’s first-ever demonstration of an electronic communication machine when the three men sent a message through bundles of cable, which they packed into the cramped building to a waiting receiver device.
The message, “a patient waiter is no loser,” was transcribed through a series of dots and dashes, conceived by Vail, and was the precursor to what would become Morse code, explains Smithsonian.com.
The concept for the telegraph was borne out of tragedy and serendipity. In 1825, Morse was a professional painter working in Washington, D.C., when he received a letter that his wife was sick. By the time he reached his home in New Haven, Connecticut, she had already been buried.
The telegraph functioned by transmitting electrical signals over a wire that ran between stations. By controlling the length and tempo of a current, an operator was able to send different signals in the form of Morse code.
According to History.com, the code assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet. Commonly used letters like “E” had a simple code, while infrequently used letters like “Q” had a more complex code.
For example, S.O.S., the Morse code signal for distress, doesn’t stand for any particular words, but was chosen because the letters are easy to transmit: “S” is three dots and “O” is three dashes.
Messages were rendered as marks on a piece of paper that were then translated back to English. As operators became more familiar with the technology, they were able to understand the code just by listening. Eventually paper was replaced by a receiver that generated a more pronounced, and therefore more easily understood, beeping sound.
Six years after the unofficial demonstration in New Jersey, Morse and Vail made history when the words “what hath God wrought” traveled by wire from Baltimore, Maryland, to Washington, D.C., on May 24, 1844.
However, it would be years before the technology saw practical and routine use within the government. In fact, the House barely approved the $30,000 in funding that paid for Morse and Vail to run a wire from D.C. to Baltimore. The vote was just 89 to 83, with 70 congressmen abstaining, according to Tom Wheeler writing for The New York Times in 2012.
In the years to come, the telegraph machine went through many transformations as it also changed the world around it.
“As he sat in the telegraph office reading messages, he gained insights, felt the pulse of his Army in the field and reacted,” Wheeler wrote. From that day, Lincoln paved the way for how the technology would shape the battlefield.
In many ways, Lincoln’s use of the telegraph marked the emergence of the modern-day situation room and set the standard for the commander in chief to be tapped into the war effort.
Additionally, the messages were protected from interception during the Civil War, wrote Terry L. Jones in a 2013 article for The New York Times. Anson Stager, who previously worked as the general superintendent of the Western Union Company, served on Gen. George B. McClellan’s staff before being placed in command of the Military Telegraph Corps.
Stager created a system for masking Union telegraph messages, tapping out words in standard Morse code that were then transmitted out of order to make them read as gibberish without the decipher key. The words had to be arranged on a grid of rows and columns, with the first word in the message serving as a key that told the recipient how to arrange the words.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, international Morse, a variation of the original code that is still used today, was used in World War II, the Korean War, and in Vietnam. It was also used heavily by the shipping industry until the 1990s.
Morse code is the oldest mode of electronic communication still in use; 178 years after the first signal snaked its way through two miles of wire at Speedwell Ironworks in New Jersey.
CAIRO (Reuters) - After losing territory, ISIS fighters are turning to guerrilla war — and the group's newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.
In recent weeks, IS's al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.
A sprawling new survey says a ‘culture of resilience’ helped US military families weather housing woes for years
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
Judge approves negligence lawsuit against Air Force and Pentagon by victims of 2017 Sutherland Springs church massacre
The suit meets the criteria to fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek damages in certain cases if they can prove the U.S. Government was negligent, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Under most circumstances the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from lawsuits, but in this case U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez held that failure of the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense to log shooter Devin Kelley's history of mental health problems and violent behavior in an FBI database made them potentially liable.
ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- Loose lips sink ships, but do they reveal too much about the hugely anticipated "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," filmed onboard in February?
Not on this carrier, they don't. Although sailors here dropped a few hints about spotting movie stars around the ship as it was docked in San Diego for the film shoot, no cats — or Tomcats — were let out of the bag.
"I can't talk about that," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who commands the Roosevelt.