Introduction to Transatlantic Cable (01:15)
Even in the space age modern fiber optic cables transmit data and voice traffic with much higher reliability and at a cheaper rate than satellite transmissions.
Water and Electricity Don't Mix (01:33)
When the telegraph was invented in 1837 engineers dreamed of communicating across oceans. The inability to waterproof, pressurize and insulate a cable from water stalled progress.
Cyrus West Field: A Great American (07:29)
Considered by many historians to be one of the greatest Americans of the 19th century, Cyrus West Field and other entrepreneurs formed a telegraph company with the goal of laying the first transatlantic cable.
The Real Challenge (04:28)
Western Union spoke out strongly against Cyrus West Field's transatlantic venture. They had their own plan to reach Europe via telegraph line across the Bering Strait. American and British naval ships were provided to carry out Field's plan.
The Expedition of 1857 (02:43)
On August 5, 1857 the first transatlantic cable was connected to the Irish shore. The cable got caught in the ship's machinery and broke. It was repaired but 300 miles in a real disaster struck and the mission failed. Cyrus Field remained optimistic.
The Expedition of 1858 (01:32)
For the second expedition it was decided that two ships would meet mid ocean and splice the cable together. The cable was re-spliced several times but the mission ultimately failed.
Triumph and Failure (07:55)
On July 29, 1858 the transatlantic telegraph cable was completed. For the first time in history North America and Europe were linked. There were serious problems with the new cable.
The Expedition of 1865 (03:18)
On July 23, 1865 ships were back at sea trying to lay the first transatlantic cable. Disaster struck and the future of international communications was postponed once again. Western Union's plan to go across the Bering Strait appeared to be the best.
The Expedition of 1866 (06:44)
On July 27, 1866 the first transatlantic cable was successfully laid after several disastrous attempts. With the news of Cyrus Field's success Western Union finally accepted defeat. By 1915 the first transatlantic telephone line opened.
Transatlantic Telephone Cable (02:28)
It wasn't until the early 1950s that the vacuum tube amplifier had been perfected for deep sea use. In 1955 America's AT&T and the British post office began laying the first amplified telephone cable onto the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
Copper Becomes Glass (03:35)
By the mid 1970s copper cables began to be replaced by fiber optic wires. Transatlantic cables perform better than satellites and are also cheaper.
Credits: Modern Marvels: Transatlantic Cable—2500 Miles of Copper (01:07)
Credits: Modern Marvels: Transatlantic Cable—2500 Miles of Copper
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