On this day in history: 1838 Samuel Morse gives the first public demonstration of his new invention, the electric telegraph, to his partner (financial backer) Judge Alfred Vail at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey.
At the Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey on January 11, 1838, Morse and Vail made the first public demonstration of the electric telegraph. Although Morse and Alfred Vail had done most of the research and development in the ironworks facilities, they chose a nearby factory house as the demonstration site. Without the repeater, the range of the telegraph was limited to two miles (3 km), and the inventors had pulled two miles (3 km) of wires inside the factory house through an elaborate scheme. The first public transmission, with the message, “A patient waiter is no loser”, was witnessed by a mostly local crowd.
Morse traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1838 seeking federal sponsorship for a telegraph line but was not successful. He went to Europe, seeking both sponsorship and patents, but in London discovered that Cooke and Wheatstone had already established priority. After his return to the US, Morse finally gained financial backing by Maine congressman Francis Ormand Jonathan Smith.