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


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Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me.

Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me:

Bill Burns - [email protected]

AtlanticCableStock.jpg (27830 bytes)
Atlantic cables of 1858,
1865, and 1866
Atlantic Telegraph Company stock certificate dated 19th May 1858  The Eighth Wonder
of the World
Atlantic Cables: 1857-1866
  Master Index to articles on the first Atlantic Cables
The 1857-58 Atlantic Cable
  History of the Atlantic Cable enterprise, 1850-1858
by Bill Glover
  The 1858 cable history as it happened - reported by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper
Atlantic Cables: 1856-2022
  Master Timeline of all Atlantic Cables
Cyrus Field - A Contemporary Record
  Cyrus Field Photographs and Portraits - the man behind the Atlantic Cable
  Cyrus Field Medals and other cable medals and tokens
  Cyrus Field’s Descendants - Diane Gravlee’s comprehensive list of Cyrus Field’s family and descendants, down to the seventh generation
  The Brothers Field - Russell Carpenter’s history of the five brothers of the Field family who held among them a total of 10 academic and honorary degrees from Williams College.
  Cyrus Field Family Portraits - images of paintings of Cyrus Field and his parents, wife, and sons, owned by Peter Christian Hall and Alix-Marie Hall, New York City-based siblings whose great-grandfather was Frederick Joseph Stone, Cyrus Field’s nephew
Cable Bibliography
  Main Reference Bibliography - books and other printed material, films and videos on cable laying
Current Bibliography - books available for purchase, book reviews, recent magazine articles
Additional Bibliography - Gill Cookson’s Submarine Telegraphy Research Notes
Book Cover Images - from Cable and Telegraph Books
Cable Company Book Advertisements
Atlantic Cable Sheet Music - popular songs and music inspired by the cable expeditions
Cable Pioneers
  Images, brief biographies, and autographs of the men who pioneered and promoted the cable industry
Cable Timeline - 1845 to 2022 by Bill Glover
  A chronological record of every major submarine communications cable worldwide.
Corrections and updates are welcome.
Includes sections on cable signalling speeds, cable design features, and cable recovery.
Master Timeline of all Atlantic Cables
Cable & Wireless
  Bill Glover’s History of Cable & Wireless - a detailed history of the firm and its predecessor companies, illustrated with original telegrams, covers, and other documents.
Cable Ships
  Cable Ships - illustrated articles on ships used for cable laying and repair, from 1850 to 2010
Cable Stories - 1850 to 2015
  Personal stories and photographs of the cable industry, shared by site visitors. Contributions are welcome!
Cable Stamps and Covers
  Submarine Cable Stamps and First Day Covers - includes Atlantic Cable 75th and 100th anniversary stamps and covers, Bill Glover’s extensive collection of cableship stamps and covers with information on each ship and the cables laid, and Bill’s history of Cable & Wireless, illustrated with original telegrams and covers.
Cable Artifacts, Ephemera, and Memorabilia
  Atlantic Cable Broadsides 1856-66
Cable Equipment and Cable Samples
Early Cable Instruments - text and images of a talk given at the Antique Wireless Association Conference, August 2009
Memorabilia, Ephemera, and Promotional Material - Cable Watch Fob, 1858 Atlantic Cable Album, Cable Candlestick, Niagara Anchor, Cable Cane, Cable Snuff Box, Cable Earrings
1858 Cable Souvenir Advertisements - the short-lived frenzy in New York for all things cable after the successful expedition of 1858
Cables for Electrical Power
  A guide to the differences between power and communications cables 
Research Requests - contributions welcome
  Mystery Cable at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum by Allan Green. This landline cable may have been used as a telegraph connection, or in a radio application.
Special Feature Sections
  Back Reflections - Stewart Ash's articles on many aspects of cable history and technology
Major Submarine System Suppliers (1850 -2012) - a diagram showing the evolution of undersea cable companies from the beginning of the industry until the present day, by Stewart Ash
The Atlantic Telegraph Cables Trail - an illustrated guide for visitors to the sites of the earliest Atlantic Cables in County Kerry, Ireland
Cable Route Maps - from the first Atlantic Cable to present
Cable Manufacturing & Laying Companies and Cable Stations - illustrated articles on early cable companies and cable stations
Report on the IEEE Conference on the History of Telecommunications, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 25-27 July, 2001 - includes photographs of the Heart’s Content Cable Station Museum
"Online - 150 Years on the Net" - an overview of the special exhibition at the Danish Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen (2 February to 19 September 2004)
150 Years Of Industry & Enterprise At Enderby’s Wharf - by Allan Green
The Atlantic Cable Medal of 1866 - article by Herman Blanton on the medals presented after the success of the 1866 cable
Distant Writing - The Telegraph Companies in Britain between 1838 and 1868 - website by Steven Roberts on British Telegraphy from 1838 to 1868, which includes considerable detail on the submarine cable companies working in this period.
Cable History: Original Articles and Reprints of Early Material
1827 Precursor to the Electric Telegraph - article by Bill Glover on the Holyhead - Liverpool semaphore telegraph, established in 1827 and finally superseded by a cable/landline connection in 1861
1837-1860 Early Landline Telegraph Cables - 1978 article by Francis Celoria on the beginnings of the telegraph cable industry in Britain
1838-1868 Distant Writing - The Telegraph Companies in Britain between 1838 and 1868 - article by Steven Roberts on British Telegraphy which includes considerable detail on the submarine cable companies working in this period
1840-1866 Origins of the Submarine Cable Industry in Britain - a paper presented at the Fleming Centenary Conference, University College London, 1-2 July 2004
1842-1853 Cyrus Field, Paper Merchant - how Field made his fortune
1845-1857 On the Submarine Telegraph - John Watkins Brett on his involvement, together with his brother Jacob Brett, in the early cable enterprise
1845-1950 The Gutta Percha Company - insulation, and more; one of Telcon’s predecessor companies
1849 Early British Experiments in Submarine Telegraphy - by Charles V. Walker
1849 Article from The Times on Walker’s experiments
1849 Horatio Hubbell and his claim to be the originator of the Atlantic Cable - a forgotten pioneer
1849 Joseph Hyppolyte Pulte and the land route to Europe - another forgotten visionary
Pre-1850 Wire Rope and the Submarine Cable Industry - the origins of cable-making technology
1850 The 1850 Dover-Calais Cable - articles from Scientific American and The Living Age on the first cross-Channel cable
1850-1858 The First Atlantic Cable - history of the early attempts to lay the cable
1850-1851 The Submarine Telegraph Company - the company which laid the first cross-Channel cables
1850-1851 1850 & 1851 Dover-Calais Cables - from Willoughby Smith’s book
1852-1866 Anglo-Irish Cables - article on these important early lines by Steven Roberts
1852 The Electric Telegraph - a poem on the wonders of telegraphy
1853 Shaffner and Sleeth’s Ohio River Cable at Paducah
1854 The Atlantic Cable Projectors - how it all began
1855 European Sub-Marine Telegraph - article from Scientific American on the Crimea cable
1856 Marshall Lefferts at the American Geographical and Statistical Society - speaking on The Electric Telegraph; its Influence and Geographical Distribution
1857 Laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable from Ship to Shore - a portfolio of eight lithographs together with a description of landing the shore end of the 1857 cable at Valentia, Ireland, by John R. Isaac.
1857 Professor Hall’s Floating Telegraph Stations - an alternative to a single span cable across the Atlantic
1858 On Submerging Telegraphic Cables - report on a paper presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers (London)
1858 The Northern Land Route - Tal Shaffner’s alternative to the Atlantic Cable
1858 Henry Field’s Summer Pictures - a brief account of the meeting of the Field brothers in Plymouth just before the sailing of the expedition
1858 The Cable History as it happened - reported by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper
1858 The Cable Celebration in New York City - contemporary illustrations and text
1858 Speech by David Dudley Field - at the Crystal Palace, the Cable Celebration in New York City
1858 Robert Merry’s Museum - articles on the cable from a children’s magazine
1860 On the Maintenance and Durability of Submarine Cables in Shallow Waters - paper presented by William Henry Preece to the Institution of Civil Engineers
1861 Deep-Sea Telegraphs - George Saward examines the failures to date and proposes remedies
1861 Henry O’Rielly and the Russo-American Telegraph - another unsuccessful proposal
1862 Cyrus Field at the American Geographical and Statistical Society - speaking on Prospects of the Atlantic Telegraph
1863 Cyrus Field at the New-York Chamber of Commerce - A Meeting Called to Further the Enterprise of The Atlantic Telegraph
1865 Telegraphy and the Atlantic Cable in the U.S. Capitol Dome
1865 Russell: The Atlantic Telegraph - high resolution scans of the cover, title page, and the tinted lithographs from the book recording the events of the 1865 Great Eastern cable expedition
1865 Original letter from Sir Daniel Gooch describing the loss of the cable on the 1865 Great Eastern expedition
1865 The 1865 Atlantic Cable - companies involved in its manufacture
1865 John C. Deane’s Diary of the 1865 Great Eastern expedition
1865 Letter from Sir Robert Peel to John C. Deane, later Secretary of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, concerning the loss of the 1865 cable
1865 Paper by William Thomson on The Forces Concerned in the Laying and Lifting of Deep-sea Cables.
1866 The Recovery of the Cable - detailed description of the recovery of the 1865 cable, from Henry Field’s book
1867 Submarine Telegraphy at the Paris Universal Exhibition - survey and review by Robert Sabine
1869 The First French Atlantic Cable - illustrated by stereoviews
1870-74 James Nicol: cableship voyages - life on board ship
1871 Remarks of Mr Cyrus W. Field at the International Telegraphic Conference - Rome, December 28th 1871
1872 Sir James Anderson on Submarine Cables - their design and construction, and reasons for their failure
1877 The Laying of the Ocean Cable - Peter Cooper’s story of the Atlantic Cable
1879 25th Anniversary Celebration Invitation - the anniversary of Field’s first involvement with the cable project
1879 Speech by David Dudley Field - at the 25th Anniversary Reception
1879 The Second French Cable - including photographs from the French Cable Station Museum at Orleans, Massachusetts
1882 Facts and Observations Relating to the Invention of the Submarine Cable by R.S. Newall. In which Newall sets the record straight on who did what in the early days of cable laying.
1884 On The Causes Of Failure Of Deep-Sea Cables by James Graves. Article on the failure of the 1865 Atlantic cable from the Journal of the Society of Telegraph-Engineers and Electricians, No. 51, Vol. XIII, 1884. The author was a cable engineer who supervised the manufacture of the 1865 cable and was later superintendent of the Valentia cable station where the recovered 1865 cable terminated.
1884 A Visit to the Works of Messrs. Siemens Bros. - article from The Telegraphist
1885 Life on the Atlantic Telegraph Company’s Valentia Cable Station - article from The Telegraphist
1886 Government Telegraphy - article by Cyrus W. Field in The North American Review
1886-95 Captain Basil Combe - a firsthand account of life on the cableships
1887 The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company, Limited (Silvertown) - article from The Telegraphist
1887 The Submarine Cables Trust
1889 Cable Operators: The Little Army of Men Who Work the Long Ocean Wires
1890 CS Westmeath Cable Survey - detailed report of a survey expedition
1890 With a Cable Expedition - article by Herbert Laws Webb
1891 The Submarine Telegraphs of the World - article by George Walter Niven
1892 Cyrus Field’s Will - has details on the many awards and souvenirs which Field collected in his long association with the cable industry
1892 The Submarine Cables of the World - cable system survey article from Manufacturer & Builder
1892 Cables Under The Ocean - cable system survey article from the New York Times
1894 Summary of the Progress of Submarine Telegraphy - 1894 article from The Electrician on 25 years of telegraphy to the Far East
1894 Submarine Telegraph Enterprise - article from Engineering on the cost of laying and maintaining cables
1895 Nerves of the World - article on submarine cables by J. Munro, author of Heroes of the Telegraph
1895 At an Atlantic Cable Station - article by Roland Belfort
1896 Repairing a Break - book extract
1896 The Making and Laying of an Atlantic Cable - article by Henry Muir
1897 Making and Laying an Atlantic Cable - article by Roland Belfort
1898 Cable-Cutting At Cienfuegos - article by Lieutenant Cameron McR. Winslow on the US Navy expedition to cut Cuba’s submarine cables during the Spanish-American War
1898 Submarine Cable Laying - Strand Magazine article by Archer Philip Crouch, C.E.
1898 Submarine Telegraph Lines - article by Ewing Matheson which includes costs for laying and maintaining cables
1899 Telegraph Cables - article by C.J. Cooke including details of his work with Hooper’s Telegraph Company laying cables on the west coast of South America in the 1870s
1900 The Projected Cable-Line to the Philippines - article in The National Review by Chandler Hale
1900-13 James Joseph Cope, Siemens Brothers and CS Faraday
1902 How Cables Unite The World - article from The World’s Work giving a good overview of the cable industry at the beginning of the 20th century
1906 Auction Sale of Cyrus Field’s Correspondence and Papers - many interesting and unusual items from Field’s library
1914 Walter Claypoole - Far Rockaway and Canso stations of the Commercial Cable Company at the beginning of World War I.
1914 The Battle of Cocos - in which the Germans destroy the cable station on Direction Island, and the aftermath
1915 How submarine cables are made, laid, operated and repaired - article by the Commercial Cable Company
1922 Submarine Telegraph Cables - article by Lt.-Col. C. deF. Chandler
1923 Laying a Deep-Sea Cable Line Delicate and Dangerous Job - New York Times article
1923 Electrical Communications - a survey by John J. Carty of AT&T of radio and cable communications between the USA and the rest of the world at an interesting turning point in technology
1925 On Board the Cable Ship - article by George W. Gray
1926 Cable Chess Match between London and Chicago
1934-39 Post Office Green Papers include one on cables and others on telegraph history
1942 The Future of Transoceanic Telephony - article by Dr. Oliver E. Buckley, President of Bell Telephone Laboratories. Early discussion of repeatered telephone cables across the Atlantic
1943 Theirs the Job to Keep the Cables Mended - newspaper article on cable laying and repair in wartime
1944 Cable Station RM - Cal Sheckler’s account of diverting the 1926 Azores-Emden German cable into Normany for use by the Allied Forces after D-Day
1944 Cable & Wireless - Communications Old And New - book illustrations by C.F. Tunnicliffe
1959 Salient Features In Cable Design Since 1850 - a timeline of cable technical developments from 1850 to 1959 by Submarine Cables Ltd.
1968 Undersea Cable- an overview of repeatered telephone cable systems
1970 Undersea Cable Systems - A Survey (or: Explanation to an Unknown Lady in Philadelphia) - article by Robert L. Easton
1974 Tiffany Cable Samples - if you’ve ever wondered about the source of all those Tiffany-marked samples of the 1858 cable which show up on eBay every few weeks, and whether or not they are genuine, here’s the story. (The cable samples are genuine; the certificates and boxes are vintage 1974, although authentic 1858 certificates are occasionally found).
2001 The Transatlantic Cable Stations - An Irish Perspective - paper by Cornelia Connolly, presented at the IEEE Conference on the History of Telecommunications, St. John’s, Newfoundland, July 2001

Landline Telegraphy

1867 Modern Telegraphy: some errors of dates of events and of statement in the history of telegraphy exposed and rectified / by Samuel F.B. Morse. Paris, June 1867. The link is to the Bibliothèque National de France; the text may be read on screen there, or downloaded.
1871 London And North Western Railway Telegraph Rules And Regulations - complete scan of the 1871 employee handbook, with instructions on using the Single Needle telegraph
Links to Other Sites
  Lords of Lightning - telegraph history research resources, with many useful links to archives, museums, and historical newspapers
Find Latitude and Longitude - locate positions at sea for recovered cables
HMTS Alert (2) website by Charlie Voss [archived copy]
Amberley Museum Connected Earth display (Sussex, England)
Les Amis Des Câbles Sous-Marin - French cable history site
Aronsson’s Telecom History Timeline - a detailed timeline of communications history from 15,000 BC through September 2001 [archived copy]
Ascension Island Heritage Society - includes a history of the Eastern Telegraph Company and Cable & Wireless on Ascension, with period photographs
The Atlantic Cable - by Bern Dibner, 1959. The Smithsonian website has full-page images of the entire text of Dibner’s book, an important and comprehensive reference to the history of the cable.
Atlantic Cable Souvenirs - Mary Addyman's page on cable souvenirs in the Cuming Museum (Southwark) collection
Atlantic Sentinel - a book by Donald R. Tarrant on the history of transatlantic communications in Newfoundland
Bamfield Cable Station - the site in British Columbia of the Pacific Cable Board Cable Station, which served as the eastern terminus of the trans-pacific telegraph cable from 1901 to 1959. The facility is now the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
Bay Roberts Cable Station - the 1910 cable station building in Newfoundland is now a local history museum. The museum’s website has many historic cable images.
Cabot Strait Telegraph Cable 1856 - an early link in the first Atlantic cable
Canso Cable Station - the Commercial Cable Rehabilitation Society had been revitalizing the former Commercial Cable trans-Atlantic relay station in Hazel Hill, Nova Scotia, but the building was demolished in 2017.
The Chapin Library at Williams College has an archive of Field family papers which includes material from Cyrus W. Field. Some images are on line, and the page also has links to other sources
Gustavo Coll’s Signa Telegraph Collection - has some interesting cable instruments and samples
Connecting the Continent [2010 archived copy] - Australian site which includes material on the Overland Telegraph
Gill Cookson’s History Today article - a short overview of the laying of the first Atlantic Cables
County Kerry Transatlantic Cable Stations - Ireland, where it all began
Donard de Cogan’s Papers - original research on aspects of cable and telegraph history
Distant Writing - The Telegraph Companies in Britain between 1838 and 1868 - a comprehensive website by Steven Roberts on British Telegraphy from 1838 to 1868, which includes considerable detail on the submarine cable companies working in this period.

Early Submarine Telegraphy Companies [archived copy] - detailed information on the first cables via Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

The Electromagnetic Telegraph [2007 archived copy] - J.B. Calvert’s website includes some useful information on submarine telegraphy and cable codes
Engaging with Communications - University of Salford website by Professor Nigel Linge, which promotes the importance of telecommunications and its impact on society
French Cable Station Museum - in Orleans, Massachusetts. One of the few surviving 19th century cable stations, now a museum. The website has details of the museum and information for visitors.
The Great Transatlantic Cable - a documentary on Cyrus Field and the Atlantic Cable, first broadcast 11 April 2005 on PBS TV stations (USA) as part of the American Experience series. DVD available from Amazon.
Greg’s Cable Map - an interactive map of present-day working cables
The Greenwich Industrial History Society - back issues of the Society’s newsletter have some material on the cable industry at Greenwich.
Robert Halpin and Tinakilly House - information on the captain of the Great Eastern in her cable-laying days and his Irish home.
A History of the Telegraph in Jersey - Graeme Marett’s research, 48-page PDF (285KB)
ICPC - The International Cable Protection Committee.  Links to submarine cable companies and suppliers; historical material in the Information section of the site. See also this page on ICPC souvenir items.
IEEE Heart’s Content Cable Station History
IEEE History Center - the (American) Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers website devoted to the preservation of electrical engineering history.

IET (formerly IEE) Archives - the archive of the (British) Institution of Engineering & Technology (The IET), which holds much material on early telegraphy, including the scrapbook of cable pioneer Jacob Brett, the papers of Sir Francis Ronalds, WF Cooke, Oliver Heaviside, and WH Preece, and a collection of drawings by EW Cooke on the 1858 Atlantic telegraph expedition. The archive website has a research guide to submarine telegraphy. Direct link to IET archives search.

The IET History of Technology Network page sometimes has information on cable-related books, websites, conferences, and exhibits.

Indicator Loops - specialized versions of undersea cables used to detect the approach of submarines
Industrial research at the Eastern Telegraph Company, 1872–1929 - article by Richard Noakes on R&D at the company in the early 20th century (behind paywall)
Kelvin letters and papers at the University of Glasgow - an extensive collection including cable material. See also Matthew Trainer’s comprehensive site on William Thomson, Lord Kelvin [archived copy], and The Kelvin Society website [archived copy].
Clarence H. Mackay and the Commercial Cable Company - Bill McLaughlin’s comprehensive page on Mackay includes this section on cable history.
Samuel Morse Historic Site at Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie - the house and grounds owned by Morse from 1851 to 1872, now a National Historic Landmark. The Morse Exhibit in the Visitor Center displays a number of Morse’s paintings, together with some telegraph and cable artifacts. Guided house tours are available, and there is free admission to the 150 acres of grounds running down to the Hudson River.

Morsemad - John Snell’s site on Morse telegraphy

Mother Earth Mother Board - Neal Stephenson’s 1996 Wired Magazine article in which he follows the installation of a modern fiber optic cable over three continents and incidentally presents the history of communications cables. Note that not all researchers agree with his comments on Wildman Whitehouse.
Mumford Books in the UK has an excellent selection of technical and industrial books, plus prints and photographs, and can often locate material on submarine cables and telegraphy.
N7CFO Homepage - Lynn Burlingame’s site; a great resource for telegraph collectors and historians
New Wireless Pioneers - Jim Kreuzer has supplied images of a number of rare items for the Atlantic Cable site.  Now his own site is open, listing many books in the field of radio and telegraph history, and including regular catalog updates.
The Old Cable House - a Bed & Breakfast in Waterville, Ireland, housed in an original Commercial Cable Company building. The site has an interesting cable history section.
The Pickering Family History [2011 archived copy] - a personal connection to the first cable
Porthcurno Telegraph Museum in Porthcurno, Cornwall, England.  A major research resource, with an on-line catalog of the extensive archive of cable material from Cable & Wireless, many photographs, and information on visiting the museum.
Repeat Please - The Laying of the First Telegraph Cable across the Atlantic - 2008 German language article by Christian Holtorf. Google translation of the article.
CS Restorer - Dirk van Oudenol’s comprehensive website on the operations of this cable ship from 1902-1951, now hosted on this site.
The Science Museum (London) has a number of cable-related images in the Picture Library. The museum's new and extensive Information Age gallery, which opened in late 2014, has "Cable" as one of its six theme areas, and many objects from the exhibit are are shown in detail on the museum's website. See also this article by curator Tilly Blyth on the concepts behind the design of the gallery [archived copy].
Scientific Use of Fiber-Optic Submarine Telecommunications Cable Systems - a paper presented in 2003 with details of Atlantic cables TAT-8 through TAT-11 and Pacific cables HAW-4, TPC-3, and GPT (8MB PDF)
Shipping Wonders of the World - John Clarke’s site on this 1930s publication has a number of pages on cable ships
Smithsonian Online Exhibition: Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas
Smithsonian Curator Emeritus Bernard Finn on the 2016 exhibit for the 150th anniversary of the 1866 Atlantic cable
Straight CW-Corner - Claudio Ruggieri’s site on telegraph keys has an extensive section on submarine cable apparatus (automatic translation from the Italian original)
SubmarineCableSystems.com - a directory site for the telecommunications, submarine cable system, and offshore service industries. Provides a good overview of the services available to the modern cable industry.
Submarine Cable Telegraphy Demo - From the Sparks Telegraph Key Review site, a graphical demo of how polarity reversal was used to improve the speed of submarine cables
Submarine Telecoms Forum - publishes a bi-monthly on-line magazine (PDF) about the cable industry. The website has frequent news updates on current cables and events.
The TCI Library - the on-line library of Telephone Collectors International, with many downloadable documents, as well as a detailed index (with links to archive copies) for the Bell System Technical Journal
Telecom Digest - a comprehensive site on all aspects of telecom history, with a searchable archive.
Telecommunications and the Natural History of São Tomé and Príncipe [2007 archived copy] - some interesting notes on the interaction of Gulf of Guinea cable staff and natural history scientists in the 1800s.
The Telecommunications Heritage Group - a British organization dedicated to the history of all forms of telecommunication.
Telecommunications Technology and History [2016 archived copy] - Don Kimberlin’s site has some interesting articles and links to other early communications sites
TeleGeography’s cable map- a regularly updated interactive map of present-day working cables.
Telegraph Equipment - Brooke Clarke’s page; a good reference for the history of landline telegraphy instruments and patents
The Telegraph Field [2014 archived copy] - a small site on the telegraph history of Valentia Island
Telegraph-History - John Casale’s site focuses on US telegraph history and includes much early documentation
Telegraphic Codes and Message Practice - John McVey’s site examines in detail the use of telegraphic codes to reduce the cost of messages over cables and also increase their security to some extent
Telegraph Lore - Greg Raven’s site covers all aspects of telegraphy and includes a photo gallery of Fons Vanden Berghen’s extensive collection of rare instruments
Fons’ own Telegraphy - Vanden Berghen site has more photographs and articles.
The Telegraph Office - Neal McEwen’s site has extensive coverage of telegraph history, including a submarine telegraphy section [archive copies]
Thomas Anderssen’s Telegraphic Key Collection - includes many rare Finnish Morse keys and other equipment, as well as one or two cable instruments
UK Cable Locations [2013 archived copy] - Kingfisher Information Service interactive map and downloadable charts showing cable routes and landing sites around the British Isles
UK Submarine Cable Landings & Cable Stations - a site with information on a variety of 20th century cable installations
Valentia Heritage Centre - a local history museum on the Irish island where the Atlantic Cable project began, with much information on cable history.
Valentia Transatlantic Cable Station - Background information and details on the World Heritage Site proposal
Valentia World Heritage Site project - December 2015 article at the Silicon Republic website on this important effort.
W1TP Telegraph & Scientific Instrument Museums - Tom Perera’s comprehensive and excellent website on all aspects of telegraph history, including the account of his diving expedition to recover early submarine cables
Webster & Horsfall - supplied the steel armouring wire for the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic cables. Link to archive copy of the page.
Weston-super-Mare and the Commercial Cable Company - John Crellin’s site on cable history in this English town now presents the cable station archive of the North Somerset Museum (Feb 2003)
A Wire Around the World - BBC radio documentary on the history of submarine cables. Listen to the full programme, or read the transcript.

Site Changes 2024
15 May

Added 1890s cable forms to the Halifax and Bermudas page

Archive. Site changes from:
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Site Changes 2023
9 December

Added information on the newly-restored Atlantic Cable Projectors painting at the New York State Museum

15 September Added new cable story: Ernest Hunt - HMTS Monarch (3) and Alert (3) - a brief account of his service on Monarch (3) after the shelling by American destroyers earlier in 1944 up until the sinking of the ship by enemy action in 1945, for which he was on board. Story includes a painting of Monarch (3) by one of Ernest’s shipmates.
5 March

Added educational poster to the HMTS Monarch (4) page

27 February

Added ship photo to the CS Buccaneer page

Archive. Site changes from:
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Site Changes 2022
30 December

Added a newly discovered specimen to the Atlantic Cable Badges page

11 December

Added images of an early 1900s galvanometer to the Reid Brothers page

11 October

Added 2022 photograph of CS IT Intrepid

10 October

Added cable sections recovered in 1903 to the Direct United States Cable Company page

1 October

Added new material to the CS Duplex page

26 September Added new cable story: Mortimer O’Connell - a brief survey of the first fifty years of the cable industry, particularly the Atlantic cables, by a telegraphist who worked at Ballinskelligs cable station from 1879 to 1915.
19 September

Added page on the 1904 German Atlantic cable

3 March

Added Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem “De Sauty” to the 1858 Newfoundland Station page

26 February

Added new images to cableship pages CS Britannia (2), CS Mirror (2), CS Patrick Stewart (2)

20 February

Added notes on Henry Clifford’s model of Great Eastern

16 February

Added new material to the the page on 1858 Atlantic Cable Souvenir Advertisements

7 February

Added “The Transatlantic Telegraph Cable” video to the Heart's Content Cable Station 2001 conference page

2 February

Updated the page on the 1982 SL Lightguide Cable System Sea Trials with recent news

22 January

Added page on the 1963 TAT-3 transatlantic telephone cable

19 January

Added photograph of an interesting souvenir of the 1855 Crimea cable

19 January Added new Cable Story: Bob Ceen - sonar surveys on CS Marcel Bayard, 1980
19 January

Added page on the 1960 Anglo-Swedish telephone cable

17 January

Added photographs to the page on the 1895/96 Amazon River Cable

12 January Added woodcuts of the landing of the cable in Tasmania and Victoria to the page for the 1869 cable between these Australian sites
1 January Added The Cable Guy poster to this page.
Archive. Site changes from:
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Site Changes 2021
Note: As well as the changes listed below, Stewart Ash and I conducted extensive archive research all during 2021, which resulted in updates and additions throughout the site. —Bill Burns, November 2021
12 August Added link in the Other Sites section to the Connected Earth display at Amberley Museum (Sussex, England)
10 August

Added new Transatlantic Cable 2021 stamp to the broadsides page

27 July

Added photographs of CS René Descartes at Victoria, BC, Canada

1 July

Added more examples to the 1866 Atlantic Cable Badges page

27 April

Added First World War photographs of the 1885 Reiss Links Sinclair Bay Cable House

17 April

Added new photographs and information to the CANTAT-1 page

4 April

Added new Cable Story - George Browne, CS The Cable, and a sweepstakes win (1929)

3 March

Added story to HMS Lasso page: Richard Willis and the Destruction of German Fortifications on Heligoland (April 1947)

1 February

Added new books to the Current Bibliography page

31 January

Added page on the 1893 French cable from Bundaberg, Australia to New Caledonia

Archive. Site changes from:
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Unless otherwise noted, all images and text on the Atlantic Cable website are
copyright © 2024 FTL Design and may not be reproduced without permission
Please request permission if you wish to use images from this site.

Contact Information
Site owner and webmaster: Bill Burns
email me at:
[email protected]


With the site now in its 25th year, I continue to extend special thanks to Bill Glover, who has been contributing time and material to the project for much of that time, and to Stewart Ash, a cable consultant who is involved in both modern technology and historical research, for his many contributions.

Thanks also to Jim Jones, a cable industry veteran of many years, who has not only provided much of his own material, but has also tracked down former colleagues and other cable workers for contributions to the site.

And to the late Steven Roberts, an invaluable source of research help, who contributed a number of important articles to the site. Steve’s Distant Writing - The Telegraph Companies in Britain between 1838 and 1868 was first published on-line with the encouragement of this website.

And finally, thanks to all contributors and correspondents for their help in making the site a major resource for communications history research.

Contributors are credited on their individual pages; all uncredited material is by site owner and webmaster Bill Burns.

The background image on this page is taken from the
front cover of W.H. Russell’s The Atlantic Telegraph,
and shows a section of the 1865 cable.


Bill Burns is “The Cable Guy”
Graphic design and artwork by Alison Scott, copyright © 2021
Telcon logo shirt courtesy of Jim Jones

The image shows a section of the 1900 German Atlantic cable, made
and laid by the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company (Telcon)