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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Book Covers

Click on each cover image for a full-size view

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JUDSON, Isabella Field
Cyrus W. Field, His Life and Work.  New York, 1896; 8, 332 pp.
A documented biography by the third of Mr. Field’s four daughters.

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DIBNER, Bern
The Atlantic Cable.  Norwalk, 1959, Burndy Library.   An excellent overview of the history of the Atlantic Cable, readily available on the used-book market.

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BRIGHT, Charles
The Life Story of Sir Charles Tilston Bright. London, 1908, Archibald Constable & Co.; 20, 478 pp. 2nd edition, revised and abridged.
The biography of the youthful chief engineer of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, written by his son.

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The Story Of Cyrus Field - The Projector of The Atlantic Telegraph.  London 1875, T. Nelson and Sons, 120 pp.
The left and center images are of the 1879 printing of this small book. The title page of the 1875 first edition is on the right. There was also an 1877 edition, not shown.

The title page banner reads: "Lessons From Noble Lives" and the front cover is embossed:

"The lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time"
                               - Longfellow.

The book contains a brief biography of Field and descriptions of the cable-laying voyages from 1857 to 1866. A three-page appendix has extracts from Field's speech at the Banquet given him under the presidency of the Duke of Argyll, in Willis's Rooms,  London, on July 1st, 1868.

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RUSSELL, W.H.
The Atlantic Telegraph.  London, (1866); 4to; 4, 117 pp.
With 27 magnificent lithographs. One of the prime books, especially in describing the 1865 expedition.

See the full page on this book

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Mullaly, John
A Trip to Newfoundland
Its Scenery and Fisheries
With an Account of the Laying of the Submarine Telegraph Cable. New York, 1855, T.W. Strong, 108pp.

Click here for a detail of the title embossed on the cover and here to see the title page

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BRIGHT, Charles
Submarine Telegraphs - Their History, Construction, and Working.
London. 1898: 4to, 38. 744 pp.. plates.
An elaborate, technical exposition by the son of Charles T. Bright.

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CARTER III, Samuel
Cyrus Field: Man of Two Worlds.  New York, 1968, G.P. Putnam's Sons.  The definitive biography of Cyrus W. Field.
"This biography of the man who laid the Atlantic cable gives both a personal history and an insight into the dynamics of the Gilded Age in which Field moved to the top, then fell from it.  Field could not have asked for a more sympathetic biographer." (Kirkus Service)

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GOOCH, Sir Daniel
Memoirs & Diary.  Newton Abbot, 1972, David & Charles; 386 pp., 15 plates.
Originally published in an abridged form in 1892. This publication is the complete edition of the original manuscript, edited by Roger Burdett Wilson.  Gooch was engineer of the Great Eastern, and supervised the cable-laying voyages of 1865 and 1866.  An interesting first-person account.

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CLARKE, A. C.
Voice Across the Sea.
Top: New York, Harper & Brothers, 1958; 15, 208 pp.
An account of submarine telegraph and telephone lines.
Bottom:  New York, Harper & Row, 1974; 228 pp. Second edition, updated and revised.

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Europe and America.
Report of the Proceedings at an Inauguration Banquet
, given by Mr. Cyrus W. Field of New York, at the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, on Friday the 15th April, 1864, in Commemoration of the Renewal by the Atlantic Telegraph Company (After a lapse of Six Years,) of their efforts to unite Ireland & Newfoundland, by means of a Submarine Electric Telegraph Cable.
London, printed by William Brown & Co., 40 & 41, Old Broad Street.  1864

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Souvenir of the Inaugural Fete, In Commemoration of the Opening of Direct Submarine Telegraph with India.   London, June 23rd, 1870.
The souvenir book for the event held at John Pender's house.

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Twenty-Seventh Anniversary of The First Atlantic Cable.  Mr. Cyrus W. Field's Banquet at the Star and Garter Hotel, Richmond, on August 5th, 1885.  London, 1886, Printed for Private Circulation; 32 pp.; wraps.

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SCOTT, J.D.
Siemens Brothers 1858-1958.  London, 1958, Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 257 pp.
An essay in the history of industry. The Faraday was designed by William Siemens in collaboration with his friend William Froude, the great pioneer in the design of ships' hulls.  She was built in Newcastle and launched in 1873.  Three hundred and sixty feet in length with a beam of 52 feet, she had a gross tonnage of 4908. In her seagoing life of 47 years she laid 50,000 miles of cable.

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HAIGH, K.R.
Cableships and Submarine Cables. London, 1968, Adlard Coles, 416 pp.
A historical survey of cable ships and cable companies, from the 1840s to the 1960s.
Left - first edition cover image: The Neptun, the third vessel to bear that name, was built in 1962 by Lubecker Flenderwecke A.G.  493' 10" in length with a breadth of 61' 8".
Right - second edition cover image: Cable Venture - the same ship, bought by Cable & Wireless in 1975, modernized and renamed.
Click here to visit a site with information on cable ships presently in service.

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SHIMURA, Seiichi., Ed.
International Submarine Cable Systems.  Tokyo, 1984, KDD Engineering And Consulting, Inc. 
A text on modern submarine cable systems.  Interestingly, the repair section in this book shows a ring splice tool almost identical to the one used in 1896.
The cover shows the KDD Maru lying at anchor, a little way off the cable landing site.  A lot of cable floats are progressively lashed to the shore-end cable to keep it afloat during cable landing.

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GARRATT, G. R. M.
One Hundred Years of Submarine Cables. London, 1950; 8, 60 pp.; plates. Published by the Science Museum of London.

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SCOTT, R. Bruce
Gentlemen on Imperial Service. Victoria, 1994, Sono Nis Press. 131 pp.
A Story of the Trans-Pacific Telecommunications Cable, told in their own words by those who served.

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PRESCOTT, George B.
History, Theory and Practice of the Electric Telegraph.  Boston, 1866, Ticknor & Fields, 508 pp.
Reprinted 1972 by Frank Jones, available from Artifax Books.  An excellent single-volume reference to telegraphy, with two chapters on submarine cables.

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CLAYTON, Howard
Atlantic Bridgehead. London, 1968, The Garnstone Press. 192 pp.
Includes a 75-page section on the Atlantic Cable.

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McCARTHY, Michael, GALGAY, Frank, OKEEFE, Jack
The Voice of Generations.  A History of Communications in Newfoundland.
St. John's, 1994, Robinson-Blackmore.
A history from the first telegraph line to the present time.

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MERRETT, John
Three Miles Deep. London, 1958, Hamish Hamilton.  191 pp.; 9 illustrations.
The story of the transatlantic cables by a cable-man who spent 23 years in transatlantic telegraphy.

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RUNGE, Peter K. and TRISCHITTA, Patrick R., Eds.
Undersea Lightwave Communications. New York, 1986, IEEE Press, 621 pp.   An early book on fiber optic submarine cable technology, focussing on the TAT-8, the first transatlantic fiber optic cable.

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OSLIN, George P.
The Story of Telecommunications. Macon, 1992, Mercer University Press, 507 pp.
Oslin, born in 1899,  was involved in telecommunications for many years, and personally spoke to Thomas Edison, to Martin Cahoon (who was on the Great Eastern's Atlantic Cable laying voyage), to Morse's grand-daughter, and many others.   An excellent overview of the field, currently available in paperback.

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Above is a large image of Genius of Electricity, popularly known as Golden Boy from the cover of Oslin's book.
In October 1916 when both Western Union and AT&T were in Western Union's 1875 building at 195 Broadway, a large gold-colored statue of a person with outstretched wings and an arm held high was erected on top of the building.  It was named Genius of Electricity.  Later AT&T renamed it the Spirit of Communications.
After spending almost a hundred years in Manhattan and New Jersey, in 2009 Golden Boy was moved to AT&T's new headquarters in Dallas.

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MOYER, Claire B.
Ocean Cable Lore. New York, 1974, Heath Cote Publishing Co., 58pp.
A brief survey of current cable-laying procedures, with many illustrations.
Another view of Spirit of Communications, from the dustjacket of Ocean Cable Lore.

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Spirit of Communications, used as the Western Electric logo.
The statue was modeled by Evelyn Beatrice Longman, the successful design from a competition among eight leading sculptors.  Located 434 feet above the street, the statue is 22 feet high from the tip of the thunderbolts to the bottom of the globe.

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SLATER, Ernest
One Hundred Years - The Story of Henley's - 1837-1937
London, 1937, W. T. Henley's Telegraph Works, 78 pp

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BRIGHT, Charles
Imperial Telegraphic Communication.  London, 1911, P.S. King & Son, 212 pp.
Much information on the All-British globe-circling telegraph network.

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JOHNSON, George, Ed.
The All Red Line - The Annals and Aims of The Pacific Cable Project.  Ottawa, 1903, James Hope & Sons, 486 pp.
The story of the 1902 all-British telegraph line from Canada to Australia and New Zealand, the first line to cross the Pacific Ocean. The book also includes a map of the cable route.

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MACOMBER, George S.
Modern Land And Submarine Telegraphy.  Chicago, 1914, American Technical Society, 89 pp. 59 illus.
A brief up-to-date treatise on the electric telegraph, including the development of modern methods and equipment.

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ALL AMERICA CABLES, INC. A Half Century of Cable Service to the Three Americas 1878-1928.  New York, 1928, All America Cables, Inc., 128pp.
A history of the company on its fiftieth anniversary.

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NEERING, Rosemary
Continental Dash - The Russian-American Telegraph.  Ganges, BC, 1989, Horsdal & Schubart, xii + 233 pp.
The history of the unsuccessful competitor to the Atlantic cable.
The cover painting is from the sketchbook of John C. White, a former Royal Engineer who was an official artist for the telegraphic expedition.

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REES, Jim
The Life of Captain Robert Halpin.  Arklow, Ireland, 1992, Dee-Jay Publications, 179pp plus 10pp illustrations.
A biography of the Captain of the Great Eastern, based mainly on Halpin's private papers.

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SCHELLEN, Dr. Thomas Joseph Heinrich
Das Atlantische Kabel (The Atlantic Cable: its Manufacture, Laying, and Working).  Braunschweig, Germany, 1867, 168 pp., 60 illustrations.
Thanks to Jim Kreuzer for the scans of this book.
To the right is an illustration of a cable key.

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SMITH, Willoughby
The Rise and Extension of Submarine Telegraphy
London, 1891, J.S. Virtue & Co.; 4to.; 13, 390 pp., plates.
 (Reprinted New York, 1974, Arno Press.) 

RUSSEL, Florence Kimball
A Woman's Journey through the Philippines:
On a Cable Ship that Linked Together the Strange Lands Seen en Route
Boston, 1907, L.C. Page & Company. 270 pp. Folding map, 40 plates.

First edition

10th thousand

Edition unspecified

BALLANTYNE, R.M.
The Battery and the Boiler,
or, Adventures in the Laying of Submarine Electric Cables,
London, 1883, James Nisbet & Co. 420 pp., 6 plates.

MUNRO, J
The Wire and the Wave:
A Tale of the Submarine Telegraph
London,The Religious Tract Society,
n.d. (but probably 1890 or 1891), 288 pp.
First published in the Boy's Own Paper, 1890.

NAIR, C.N.N.
The Story of India's Overseas Communications
Bombay: Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., 1988. 199 pp.

ELWOOD, Tony
Ships of the Line: A History of Cableships
London, British Telecomms PLC, 1986, 32 pp.

SALVADOR, René
Cabliers - Cableships
(France), Les Editions Chourgnoux, 1991, 175 pp.

FINN, Bernard
Submarine Telegraphy: The Grand Victorian Technology
London, HMSO (Science Museum), 1973, 48 pp.

Last revised: 1 March, 2010

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