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


The best introductory book on the Atlantic Cable is Bern Dibner’s The Atlantic Cable, published by the Burndy Library in 1959. Dibner was an electrical engineer who owned a very successful manufacturing business, and assembled a major collection of books on the history of science and technology. In his extensive collection were many of the source materials on the Atlantic Cable listed below, which formed the basis of his book. Dibner’s Burndy Library also published several other books of interest to electrical engineering historians. Full-page images of Dibner’s The Atlantic Cable are available on line at the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

Of the books below, Dugan’s Great Iron Ship is easily found, and includes a lot of information on the Great Eastern’s part in laying the 1866 cable. McDonald’s A Saga of the Seas is also fairly easy to acquire, and is an excellent popularization of the Atlantic Cable story. Samuel Carter’s 1968 biography, Cyrus Field: Man of Two Worlds, is also readily available.

Kenneth Haigh’s Cableships and Submarine Cables is an invaluable reference to the entire history of cable-laying, containing details of almost every cable company, cableship, and cables laid, from the 1840s to 1977.

Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer and inventor of the geosynchronous communications satellite, wrote Voice Across the Sea in 1958 to commemorate the centenary of the first Atlantic Cable; it’s a very readable and informative look at 100 years of communications. There is a second edition with further history through 1974, and his 1992 book, How The World Was One, brings the story into the fiber optic cable era. More recent books on cable history include Gillian Cookson’s The Cable: The Wire That Changed The World, Chester G. Hearn’s Circuits in the Sea: The Men, the Ships, and the Atlantic Cable, and John Steele Gordon’s A Thread Across the Ocean.

W.H. Russell’s The Atlantic Telegraph was published in 1865 and is illustrated with 26 color lithographs. It is the most lavish book published at the time, but original copies are hard to find. A modern reprint is available, although this is on a more modest scale. See the Current Bibliography page for more information. The books listed below by Cyrus Field’s brother Henry M. Field and daughter Isabella Field Judson are also worth reading.

Many book titles are linked to cover images or detail pages. Click on a book’s title to see the additional material, or click here for the Images of Book Covers page.

Some books of the cable era have advertisements in the back, which provide an interesting record of contemporary practice. Click here to see Cable Company Ads

Index to Sections



Bibliographies Biographies
Cableships Cables
Cable Meetings and Banquets Sermons on the Atlantic Cable
Company Histories Films and Videos
Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Eastern
Notes on the entries:
An asterisk * in the Ref column indicates that the book is in my reference library.
Numbers in the Ref column refer to the entry in Sterling & Shiers:
History of Telecommunications Technology (see below).
The Google Preview button, where shown in the Ref column, is a link to the full text of the book.
Author Title Description Ref
HARRIS, Robert Dalton and DeBLOIS, Diane An Atlantic Telegraph: The Transcendental Cable Schoharie, NY: The Ephemera Society of America, Inc., 1994. 80 pp., quarto. *
RONALDS, Sir Francis Catalogue of Books and Papers Relating to Electricity, Magnetism, the Electric Telegraph, &c. including the Ronalds Library

Full text at Google Books

London: E. & F.N. Spon, 1880. 564 pp.
The catalogue contains over 13000 entries, comprising not only the books, pamphlets, and other publications in the Ronalds Library, but also the titles of all other works on the subject of Electricity, Magnetism, &c. which came to the notice of the compiler.
Sir Francis Ronalds died in 1873, and the Ronalds Library,which comprises about 2000 volumes and 4000 pamphlets on electricity and magnetism, was transferred in 1876 to the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians (later the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and now the Institution of Engineering and Technology).


SHIERS, George Bibliography of the History of Electronics Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1972. 323 pp.
The original version of the volume following.


STERLING, Christopher H. and SHIERS, George History of Telecommunications Technology - An Annotated Bibliography

Available from

Lanham, MD and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2000. xii + 333 pp.
An essential work for the collector or researcher of communications history.
Christopher Sterling has updated and more tightly focused George Shiers’ pioneering 1972 bibliography of the communications field.
The book has a comprehensive listing of submarine telegraphy source material from 1855 through today - technical books, company histories, biographies, magazine articles, websites. Other sections of the book include telephony, electromagnetic waves, radio, electron tubes, television, and newer media.
Highly recommended.


WEAVER, William D. Catalogue of the Wheeler Gift of Books, Pamphlets and Periodicals in the Library of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers [two volume set]

Full text at Internet Archive

Further details of the Wheeler Gift Collection may be read here

New York: AIEE, 1909. 504 & 333 pp.
The catalogue of the library of Josiah Latimer Clark, of Westminster, Eng., purchased in 1901 by Schuyler Skaats Wheeler, and presented by him to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Mr. Andrew Carnegie donated the fund to house, catalog and complete the collection.
The collection was dispersed in 1995; part is now at the New York Public Library Rare Books Division, and part at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology.


Author Title Description Ref
AVERY, John G.

The Cable Ships of Turnchapel

Ordering information

Southampton: Beech Books 2004, 34pp. A short history of the cableships based at Turnchapel, Plymouth. *
Clarkson Research Services Limited

Cable Lay & Maintenance Vessels of the World

London: Clarkson Research Services Limited, 2006 third edition, 88 pp, A4 softcover.

See full review.

ELWOOD, Tony Ships of the Line: A History of Cableships
London: British Telecomms PLC, 1986, 32 pp. Written to accompany an exhibition at the Telecom Technology Showcase, London, January 15th - May 30th 1986. *
HAIGH, K.R. Cableships and Submarine Cables

First edition cover image

Second edition cover image

London: Adlard Coles, 1968. 416 pp. A historical survey of cable ships and cable companies, from the 1840s to the 1960s.
Second edition, London: Standard Telephones & Cables Limited, 1978. 454pp. Some corrections to the first edition, and updated through 1977.
MIDDLEMISS, Norman L. Cableships Gateshead, England: Shield, 2000, 160 pp. Profile drawings and short descriptions of all of them to that point *
MOODY, Bert BT Marine and Before: Cable Ships Through The Years Southampton, England: BT (Marine) Limited, 1993, 32 pp, A4 softcover. A survey of historic and modern cableships operated by the British Post Office and BT Marine. *
SALVADOR, René Cabliers
(France): Les Editions Chourgnoux, 1991. 32 x 27 cm, 175 pp. A large format book on the French cable industry, with text in French and English and photographs by Jean-Marie Chourgnoux and Patrick Godiniaux *
SCHENCK, Herbert P. Cableship Characteristics

Washington DC: Undersea Cable Engineers, Inc., 1978, 187pp. Second editon 1980, 329 pages. Prepared for the US Government’s Naval Sea Systems Command, the book provides a survey of historical and current cableships with deck plans and other detailed technical information.

VIERUS, Dieter Kabelleger aus aller Welt Berlin: Steiger, 1989, 148pp. Photos and descriptive text (in German) of past and present cable ships. Also includes sections on the equipment and methods of early cable laying, with illustrations. *
Submarine Cables
Author Title Description Ref
No author listed

An Act to incorporate and regulate the Atlantic Telegraph Company, and to enable the Company to establish and work Telegraphs between Great Britain, Ireland and Newfoundland and for other Purposes

Summary of the Act

London: 27 July 1857; folio, I6 pp. An issue of the original grant.

The full text of the Act was reprinted in The Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States, 1858. The report of the Committee on the Judiciary, dated 9 June 1858, was in response to a memorial of the Magnetic Telegraph Company requesting the passage of a law to prohibit the establishment of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in the United States, and the response to this by the A.T. Company.

ANDERSEN, Eva Wistoff, FRILANDER, Søren, & GØRICKE, Jan Hybertz:

Den store søslange (The Great Sea-Serpent) - Pictures from the infancy of telegraphy

Available from the Post & Tele Museum

Copenhagen, Denmark: Post & Tele Museum, 2004. 90 pp. Danish and English text.
Written to accompany the exhibition of 2004 at the Post & Tele Museum in Copenhagen and the corresponding web-exhibition, The Great Sea-Serpent traces the history of 150 years of telegraphic communications within Denmark, and in the wider context of worldwide links.

Statistics of Telegraphy

London: Waterlow & Sons, 1872. 121pp. Includes diagrams of cables from many manufacturers of the period. *
No author listed The Atlantic Telegraph: Its History, From the Commencement of the Undertaking in 1854, to the Return of the Great Eastern in 1865 First edition. London: Bacon & Co, 1865. 117 pp, 2 maps, foldout diagram of Great Eastern, four tipped-in photographs. Written at the conclusion of the unsuccessful expedition of 1865.
A second edition was published in 1866. followed by a third edition after the cable was successfully laid and the 1865 cable retrieved and completed.
BAINES, G.M. Beginner’s Manual of Submarine Cable Testing and Working New York: The Electrician Printing & Publishing Co., 1903. 217pp.
Image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer
BALDWIN, Maurice S.

A Break in the Ocean Cable

Image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer

Montreal: Dawson Brothers, 1877. 41 pp.
From a contemporary review: "Canon Baldwin, Rector of the Parish of Montreal, and Canon of the Cathedral. in this clear and impressive discourse, beautifully works out the illustration of human sin resembling a break in the cable of connection between earth and heaven, and the work of Christ
viewed as a rejoining of the cable."
BELL, James & WILSON, S. Submarine Telegraphy: and other papers London: "Electricity", 1895. 63pp. A practical book for practical men.
Info & image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer.
BEAUCHAMP, Ken History of Telegraphy

Available from

London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2001. 413pp.
From mechanical systems through landline and submarine cables to wireless telegraphy. An excellent overview with much historical material and a detailed bibliography for each chapter.
BLACK, Robert M. The History of Electric Wires and Cables London: Peter Peregrinus Ltd., 1983. Historical development of both communications and power cables. *
BLAKE-COLEMAN, B.C. Copper Wire and Electrical Conductors - The Shaping of a Technology Chur, Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1992. 284 pp. A comprehensive history of copper wire in its role as a conductor, with much information on its use in submarine telegraphy. Includes an extensive bibliography. *
BLUNDELL, J. Wagstaff Manual of Submarine Telegraph Companies First edition: London: Bixon and Arnold, 1871. 64pp. Second edition: London: Published by the Author, 1872. 115pp.
Financial and technical details of the companies.
BODIE, James Observations on Telegraphic Cables Devonport, n.d. but 1857. 9 pp. A proposal for yarn-covered cable by a naval officer who served in the first Atlantic cable expedition of 1857.  
BRANAGAN, J.G. The Story of the Bass Strait Submarine Telegraph Cable 1859-1967 Launceston, Tasmania: Regal Publications, 1987. 44 pp. The history of the first submarine cable in the southern hemisphere. *
BRETON, Philippe, and De ROCHAS, Alphonse B. Théorie Mécanique des Télégraphes Sous-Marins Paris: Dalmont et Dunod, 1859. 4, 72 pp., plates.
Authors’ introduction:
“This dissertation is the product of studies undertaken jointly by us in 1851 and 1852 on the occasion of the breaking of the first submarine wire laid in the English Channel. In seeking to explain to ourselves the causes of this rupture and of the considerable difference which was then pointed out between the width of the strait and the length of the wire which had to be employed, we were led to completely determine the mechanical theory of the establishment of submarine telegraphs, an absolutely new subject at this time.”
BRETT, John W.

On the origin and progress of the oceanic electric telegraph. with a few facts, and opinions of the press

British Museum via Google Books

Copies at the MIT Vail Collection and King’s College Library have this addition to the title:
": to be extended with copies of charts, soundings, and scientific detail."

London, W.S. Johnson, 1858. 104 pp. A documentation of events from 1845 to 1858.
Note: The British Museum copy has no contents section and totals only 97 pages, including the title page and preface.

BRETT, John W.

[On] The origin & progress of Brett’s submarine oceanic & subterranean electric telegraph. With a few brief facts, and [the] opinions of the press.

e-rara: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich

London: 1858. 175 pp. Expanded edition of the book above. Two copies viewed each have a manuscript title page, each with slightly different wording, and no publisher’s imprint. *
BRIGGS, Charles F., and MAVERICK, Augustus

The Story of the Telegraph and a History of the Great Atlantic Cable
Full text at Google Books
Reprint available at Amazon

New York: Rudd & Carleton.1858. 255 pp. A clear, contemporary narrative reproducing important records.


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

Submarine Telegraphs, Their History, Construction and Working

Full text at Google Books

London: Crosby Lockwood, 1898. 4to, 38. 744 pp.. plates. An elaborate, technical exposition by the son of Charles T. Bright.
Reprinted in 1974 by Arno Press.


" " The Story of the Atlantic Cable New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1903. 222 pp. A clear account condensed from the above. *
" " Submarine Telegraphy London: 1907; 31 pp. A historical review.  
BRIGHT, Edward B. The Electric Telegraph by Dr. Lardner London: 1867; 10, 272 pp., 140 figs. *

BRINE, Capt. Frederic Map of Valentia and the Atlantic Telegraph London: 1859. Folio. Shows the positions of ships and cables of 1857, 1858. *
BROWN, Frank .J. The Cable & Wireless Communications of the World London: Pitman, 1927 (first edition, 148pp), 1930 (second edition, 153pp).
Mostly on cables, includes photographs of cable laying and repair.
(2nd ed)
CAMERON, Duncan H. Submarine Telegraphy Scranton: International Textbook Company, c.1927. 83 pp, diagrams. Bluebooks 492. *
CASPER, Louis Telephone and Telegraph Cables Scranton: International Textbook Company, 1928. 51 + 67 pp. Has a short but detailed section (with diagrams) on the 1921 Key West to Havana telephone cables, and a note on the New York to Azores link, the first permalloy cable placed in service. *
VAN CHOATE, S.F. Ocean Telegraphing
Cambridge, (Massachusetts): Riverside Press, 1865. 41 pp. By a proponent of a transatlantic route via Bermuda.


CLARK, Latimer Experimental Investigation of the Laws which Govern the Propagation of the Electric Current in Long Submarine Telegraph Cables London: 1861; 50 pp., folio, plates. Evidence before the Joint Committee of the Government and the Atlantic Telegraph Company. 6-188
CLARKE, A. C. Voice Across the Sea New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958. 15, 208 pp. An account of submarine telegraph and telephone lines.
Harper & Row: 1974, second edition, updated and revised.
CLARKE, A.C. How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village New York: Bantam Books, 1992. 296 pp. A further updating of Voice Across the Sea, including sections on satellites and fiber optic cables. *
CLAYTON, Howard Atlantic Bridgehead London: The Garnstone Press, 1968.192 pp. Includes a 75-page section on the Atlantic Cable. *
COATES, Vary T. and FINN, Bernard A Retrospective Technology Assessment: Submarine Telegraphy San Francisco: San Francisco Press, Inc., 1979. A historical case study of the Atlantic cable of 1866, and its consequences on society. *
COOKSON, Gillian

The Cable: The Wire That Changed The World

Available from

Stroud: Tempus Publishing, 2003.160 pp. + 32 pp. color plates. An excellent new account of the cable story. See full review.
CORNELL, Alonzo B. History of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Schenectady: 1894. 24 pp. A pamphlet of the paper presented by Cornell at Union College on Jan 19, 1894.
CROUCH, Archer P. On a Surf-bound Coast:
or, Cable-Laying in the African Tropics
London: Sampson Low, 1887. 338pp + 32pp catalog.
An account of three months on a cable laying ship. Ship and company names have been changed by the author, but history shows that the company was the West African Telegraph Company, promoted by the India Rubber, Gutta Percha, and Telegraph Works Company. The book describes the laying of cable from Bathurst in Portuguese Guinea to Loanda in 1885-6. The cableships were Dacia, Silvertown, and Buccaneer.
The author also wrote a sequel, Glimpses of Feverland, published in 1889, describing the final three months of his voyage. A scanned (PDF) copy is available.
The Gulf of Guinea Islands’ Biodiversity Network has more information on Crouch and his books.
D’ALIGNY, H. F.Q. Outline of the History of the Atlantic Cables Washington, Government Printing Office, 1868. 13 pp. A review by the U.S. Commissioner to the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867. *

Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison and the Pioneers of the Electric Revolution

Available from

New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003. 350pp. A comprehensive and entertaining history of electricity, including the stories of Morse and Field and the Atlantic Cable. *
DE GIULI, Italo Submarine Telegraphy - A Practical Manual London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1932. *
DIBNER, Bern The Atlantic Cable Norwalk: Burndy Library, 1959. An excellent overview of the story of the Atlantic Cable.
View the entire text of the book on line at the Smithsonian Institution website.
DODD, George Railways, Steamers and Telegraphs London: W. & R. Chambers, 1867. 7, 326 pp. A concise resume of the inter-woven story. *
Du MONCEL, Th. Notice sur le Cable Transatlantique Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1869. 46 pp., 25 figs. The cables’ electrical characteristics. *
DWYER, John B. To Wire the World
Perry M. Collins and the North Pacific Telegraph Expedition

Available from

Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2001. 183pp. From the author’s preface: "My goal was to tell the story of this nineteenth-century, multicountry, trans-Pacific adventure in its entirety, with a primary focus on first-hand accounts of experiences in British Columbia, Russian America, Siberia, and at sea, by those who participated in exploring, surveying, and building Western Union’s North Pacific telegraph line. *
FIELD, Cyrus W.

The Atlantic Telegraph

(click on title to see full text)

London: 1856. 20 pp. The original prospectus. *
" " Prospects of the Atlantic Telegraph New York: 1862. 15 pp. A paper read before the American Geographical and Statistical Society. *
" " The Atlantic Cable Projectors 1854-1895 New York: Press of the Chamber of Commerce, 1895. 35 pp. A report of the session of May 23d, 1895, in which the painting by Daniel Huntington was presented to the Chamber of Commerce. *
FIELD, Henry M.

History of the Atlantic Telegraph

Reprint available from

New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 1866 (367 pp.); 1867, (438 pp.); 1869, (437 pp.). The early editions. *
" "

The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph

Text of the 1898 reprint of the 1892 edition at Gutenberg Project

London: Scribners, 1892, also 1893. 9, 415 pp., portrait, figures. This volume provided the main source of the data used in Dibner’s monograph; it is a revised version of the author’s History of the Atlantic Telegraph, above.

FINN, Bernard Submarine Telegraphy: The Grand Victorian Technology
London, HMSO (Science Museum), 1973, 48 pp. *
FORESTIER-WALKER, E.R. A History of the Wire Rope Industry of Great Britain Federation of Wire Rope Manufacturers of Great Britain, 1952. 162 pp.
Some useful background material on the wire rope companies which became the first manufacturers of submarine cables. Click here to read my article on this topic.
See also these books:
200 Years of Richard Johnson & Nephew
The Iron Masters of Penns

Thomas Bolton & Sons
in the Company Histories section below
GARNHAM, Capt. S. A. and HADFIELD, Robert L. The Submarine Cable: The Story of the Submarine Telegraph Cable from its Invention down to Modern Times London: Sampson, Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., ca. 1934. 12, 242 pp.; photos and figs. Cable history, cable ships, cable laying and repair. 16 pages of photographs and illustrations. *
GARRATT, G. R. M. One Hundred Years of Submarine Cables London: Science Museum, 1950. 8, 60 pp. *
GISBORNE, F.N. Automatic and Multiplex Telegraphy Trans. Royal Soc. of Canada, 1891. 4to.; 5 pp., plate. By the man who started it all.
Victoria University, Toronto, has the Gisborne Archive
GOLDSMID, Sir Frederick John Telegraph and Travel: A Narrative of the Formation and Development of Telegraphic Communication Between England and India, Under the Orders of Her Majesty’s Government, with Incidental Notices of the Countries Traversed by the Lines London, Macmillan, 1874. 673 pp. including 3 maps, 2 folding, errata slip, 60pp. publishers’ catalogue at end. *
GORDON, John Steele A Thread Across the Ocean New York: Walker, 2002. 240pp. A new account of the early cable history. *
No author listed Great North Atlantic Telegraph Route London: 1866. 48 pp. A prospectus favoring the Iceland, Greenland route.  

The telegraph cable. Historical view of the art of electro-magnetic telegraphing in connection with the telegraph cable, and its insulation by gutta percha.

Available from

Philadelphia: King & Baird, 1867. 40pp.
An argument addressed to the U.S. Senate Committee on patents, etc., by George Griscom. In answer to the arguments filed on behalf of G.B. Simpson’s claims. A long-running dispute on US cable insulation patent claims.



Le Meraviglie del Mondo. Il Sistema Internazionale delle Comunicazioni nell’Ottocento
[The wonders of the world. The international system of communications in the nineteenth century]

Available from Istituto di Studi Storici Postali

Italian language history of the beginnings of worldwide communications. The author describes how three major developments led to the rise of a global economy by the end of the 19th century: the transport of mail on steamboats, the cutting of the Suez Canal, and submarine telegraphy.


HAIGH, K.R. Cableships and Submarine Cables

First edition cover image

Second edition cover image

London: Adlard Coles, 1968. 416 pp. A historical survey of cable ships and cable companies, from the 1840s to the 1960s.
Second edition, London: Standard Telephones & Cables Limited, 1978. 454pp. Some corrections to the first edition, and updated through 1977.
HARCOURT, Edgar Taming the tyrant: The first one hundred years of Australia’s international communication services

Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1987. xv, 405 p., ill., map, ports.
Much of the first half of the book (175 pages) deals with the establishment of landline and cable services - a very detailed history.

HEARN, Chester G.

Circuits in the Sea: The Men, the Ships, and the Atlantic Cable

Available from

Westport, Praeger Publishers 2004, 280pp.
A detailed chronology of the Atlantic cable history with extensive notes and bibliography.
See full review.
HIGGINSON, Francis, Lieut. R.N.

Laying down the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, and Sounding Ocean Depths

British Museum via Google Books

London, Partridge & Co., 1857. 39 pp.
A series of letters sent by the author in 1857 to "the several authorities engaged in this great undertaking" (the Atlantic Telegraph Company), giving his views on taking soundings at great deptsh. Only Higginson’s size of the correspondence is included.
The following entry appears to be a much-expanded version of this booklet.

HIGGINSON, Francis, Lieutenant R.N.

The ocean, its unfathomable depths and natural phenomena: comprising authentic narratives and strange reminiscences of enterprise, delusion, and delinquency: with the voyage and discoveries of Her Majesty’s Ship "Cyclops"

British Museum via Google Books

London, Edward Stanford, 1857, 202 pp.
Half-title: "The stirring narrative of an attempt at laying down a transatlantic telegraph cable."

HMS Cyclops made soundings for the 1857 Atlantic cable expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Joseph Dayman. Higginson commented from the shore on the events of the 1857 cable expedition, and is critical of the Atlantic Telegraph Company throughout the book.


A Guide for the Electric Testing of Telegraph Cables

Full text of second edition at Hathi Trust

London: E. & F.N. Spon, 1873. 54pp, 10 figures. Second edition 1879. 72 pp, 11 figures. Testing during fabrication, installation, and in fault. The author was a member of the Royal Danish Engineers. *

" " Laying and Repairing of Electric Telegraph Cable London: Spon, 1878. 8, 71 pp. *

HOYT, Franklin Kaye The French Atlantic Cable 1869 Duxbury: 1982. 25 pp.. Published by the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society and may be ordered through the Society’s website. *
HUNT, Bruce J. Imperial Science: Cable Telegraphy and Electrical Physics in the Victorian British Empire Cambridge UK and New York: 2021. 308 pp.. Published by Cambridge University Press *
ITU Nomenclature des câbles formant le réseau sous-marin du globe. Dressée d’après des documents officiels par le Bureau international de l’Union télégraphique.
Berne: Bureau international de l’Union télégraphique (ITU), 1910. 68 pp. 10th edition. The "Berne List". Nomenclature of the cables forming the underwater network of the globe. Drawn up according to official documents by the International Telegraphic Union. A list of the world’s submarine cables.
Image courtesy of Allan Green.
JENKIN, Fleeming Report on Electrical Instruments (London: 1862): 54 pp. The instruments at the International Exhibition of 1862.  
JOHNSON, George, Ed. The All Red Line - The Annals and Aims of The Pacific Cable Project Ottawa: James Hope & Sons, 1903. 486 pp. *
KIEVE, Jeffrey.L. Electric Telegraph - A Social and Economic History Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973. A history of the British telegraph industry, with a chapter on the Atlantic cable. *
No author listed The Landing of the French Atlantic Cable at Duxbury, Mass., July, 1869

One copy of this book has an interesting inscription on the endpaper: "Saml. Lossing, Duxbury. I was present at the landing of the Cable and assisted in taking it on shore. S. Lossing.
Full text at

Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, 1869. 57 pp., 6 tipped in photographs.

Images courtesy of the Ken Rosen Image Archive

LISTER, Raymond Private Telegraph Companies of Great Britain and Their Stamps Cambridge: The Golden Head Press Ltd., 1961. 58pp. Includes a useful history of each company, together with details of the stamps. *
McCARTHY, Michael, GALGAY, Frank, OKEEFE, Jack The Voice of Generations. A History of Communications in Newfoundland St. John’s: Robinson-Blackmore, 1994. A history from the first telegraph line to the present time. *
MACOMBER, George S. Modern Land And Submarine Telegraphy Chicago: American Technical Society, 1914. 89 pp. 59 illus. A brief up-to-date treatise on the electric telegraph, including the development of modern methods and equipment.


MALCOLM, H.W Theory of the Submarine Telegraph and Telephone Cable London: Benn Brothers (The Electrician), 1917. 565 pp. One of the first books to include submarine telephone cables.



Detailed Report of the Proceedings Had in Commemoration of the Successful Laying of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable

Reprint available from

New York: Edmund Jones, 1863. 4, 282 pp. A detailed account of the 1858 New York celebration. *

[MANN, Robert. J].


The Atlantic Telegraph: A History of Preliminary Experimental Proceedings and a Descriptive Account of the Present State and Prospects of the Undertaking

Click here for title page image

Full text at Google Books

Advertisement for the book published in the Illustrated London News for several weeks beginning 15 August 1857.

London: Jarrold and Sons, July 1857. 4, 70 pp. A prospectus of the experiments and plans of the company, published "by order of the Directors"
This copy has the bookplate of Charles Wilkes, Commander of the United States Exploring Expedition 1838-42) and is inscribed to him by Captain William Hudson. Hudson was commanding officer of USS Peacock under Wilkes, and of USS Niagara during the 1857-58 Atlantic cable expeditions.

Wildman Whitehouse, who was believed by many at the time to have been the authorof this pamphlet, wrote in an 1879 letter about it: “the details of which were chiefly furnished by me though written by another hand (Dr Mann) at the desire of the Co.”


No author listed Manual No. 3. Technical Equipment of the Signal Corps Washington: Government Printing Office, 1917. *
MARCOARTU, Arturo de Universal Telegraphic Enterprise. Telegraphic Submarine Lines between Europe and America, and the Atlantic and Pacific New York: 1863; 55 pp.; map. A proposal to girdle the globe with cables. *
(copy) 6-192
MARLAND, E.A. Early Electrical Communication London: Abelard-Schuman Ltd, 1964. A history of electrical communication from the invention of the telegraph through the telephone, with a good section on submarine telegraphy. *
MAVER Jr., William American Telegraphy & Encyclopedia of the Telegraph New York: Maver Publishing Company, 1912. 563 pp. Reprinted 1997 by Lindsay Publications Inc. Perhaps the best single book on telegraphy in general; includes a chapter on submarine telegraphy.


MERRETT, John Three Miles Deep London: Hamish Hamilton, 1958. 191 pp.; 9 illustrations. The story of the transatlantic cables by a cable-man who spent 23 years in transatlantic telegraphy. *
MOLL, O Atlantic Telegraph Cables (Illustrated)

London, Waterlow and Sons, 1896. 24 pp.
A short illustrated history of the early Atlantic cables.

MOLL, O Die Untersee-Kabel in Wort und Bild
Title page image
Text at Google Books
Cologne, Germany: Westdeutscher Schriftenverein, 1904.
Images courtesy of Bob Voss.
MOYER, Claire B. Ocean Cable Lore New York: Heath Cote Publishing Co., 1974. 58pp. A brief survey of current cable-laying procedures, with many illustrations. *
MULLALY, John A Trip to Newfoundland: Its Scenery and Fisheries: With an Account of the Laying of the Submarine Telegraph Cable

Detail of cover
itle page

New York: T.W. Strong, 1855. 108pp. The first book on what would become the Atlantic Cable project. *

The Laying of the Cable, or the Ocean Telegraph

Reprint available from

New York: D. Appleton, 1858. 329 pp. A detailed report of the 1857 and 1858 cables by the correspondent of the New York Herald, on board the Niagara. *

A Story of the Telegraph

Full text at the Internet Archive

Montreal: John Lovell Son, 1905. 269 pp. A general history of the telegraph from a Canadian perspective. Incudes a 35-page section on submarine telegraphy.
Born in Scotland, the author was associated with the Canadian telegraph business for his entire career, beginning in 1856.
NEERING, Rosemary Continental Dash - The Russian-American Telegraph Ganges, British Columbia: Horsdal & Schubart, 1989. xii + 233 pp. The history of the unsuccessful competitor to the Atlantic cable. *

Facts and Observations Relating to the Invention of the Submarine Cable

(click on title to see full text)

London: E & F.N. Spon, 1882. 8 pp. A case for priority in the use of gutta-percha covered cable in the Dover-Calais, 1851 line.
See also On Submarine Electric Telegraphs, by F.R. Window, below.
OSLIN, George P. The Story of Telecommunications

Available from

Macon: Mercer University Press, 1992. 507 pp. Oslin, (1899-1996), 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. *
PARKINSON, J.C. The Ocean Telegraph to India: A Narrative and a Diary

Engravings of Daniel Gooch and John Pender

Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood, 1870. 328pp. An account of the Great Eastern’s laying of the cable from Bombay to Aden. *
PRESCOTT, George B. History, Theory and Practice of the Electric Telegraph Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1866. 508 pp. Reprinted 1972 by Frank Jones, available from Artifax Books. Another excellent single-volume reference to telegraphy, with two chapters on submarine cables. *
No author listed

Report of the Joint Committee Appointed by the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and the Atlantic Telegraph Company to Inquire into the Construction of Submarine Telegraph Cables; together with the Minutes of Evidence and Appendix

Full text at Google Books

London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1861. Folio; 44, 520 pp.; plates. Testimony of cable and telegraph experts during Dec. 1859 to Sept. 1860. The list of witnesses is a who’s who of the cable industry, and the volume contains much primary source material on the early cable laying attempts.

I have tabulated the Index to Evidence, which is a useful guide to the main content of the Report.

ROWETT, W. The Ocean Telegraph Cable: Its Construction, the Regulation of its Specific Gravity, and Submersion Explained

London: Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 1865. 125 pp.. plates. The case for hemp cable covering.

Image courtesy of Bob Voss

RUNGE, Peter K. and TRISCHITTA, Patrick R., Eds. Undersea Lightwave Communications New York: IEEE Press, 1986. 621 pp. An early book on fiber optic submarine cable technology. The editors have compiled 43 technical articles on all aspects of undersea fiber optic cables. *
RUSSEL, Major Edgar Notes on Laying, Repairing, Operating, and Testing Submarine Cables Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902. *
RUSSEL, Major Edgar Manual No. 4. Handbook of Submarine Cables of the U.S. Signal Corps Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905. *
RUSSEL, Florence Kimball

A Woman’s Journey through the Philippines: On a Cable Ship that Linked Together the Strange Lands Seen en Route

Images of the Title Page and Map

Boston: L.C. Page & Company, 1907. 270 pp. Folding map, 40 plates. The c. 1902 cable-laying voyage of the US Army’s cableship Burnside, by the wife of Signal Corps Major Edgar Russel (see his book above). The book is largely a travelogue of the Philippine Islands, but contains some interesting descriptions of cable-laying.
From the introduction: "Life on a cable-ship would be a lotus-eating dream were it not for the cable."
RUSSELL, W.H. The Atlantic Telegraph London: Day & Son, (1865). 4to; 4, 117 pp. With 26 lithographs. One of the prime books, especially in describing the 1865 expedition. All the book's illustrations, together with Robert Dudley's original watercolour paintings on which they are based, may be viewed at the link. *
SABINE, Robert The Electric Telegraph London: Virtue Brothers & Co., 1867. 12mo., 428 pp. The electrical equipment. *

SABINE, Robert The History and Progress of the Electric Telegraph with Descriptions of some of the Apparatus

London: Virtue & Co., 1869, 14, 280 pp. Second edition of the above book, "with additions".
Lockwood & Co., 1872, 280 pp. Third edition


(SAWARD, George) Deep Sea Telegraphs; Their Past History and Future Progress
being A Series of Articles Recently Published in the “Mechanics’ Magazine” and now Revised and Enlarged by the Author.
London: 1861; 48 pp. A review by the Secretary to the Atlantic Telegraph Company, describing the failings of earlier cables and their promoters and proposing methods of improvement.
Click on the title for the full text.

SAWARD, George

The Trans-Atlantic Submarine Telegraph: A Brief Narrative of the Principal Incidents in the History of the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Compiled from Authentic and Official Documents by the Late George Saward Secretary to the Company

Full text available at the link above

London: Printed for private circulation, 1878; 4, 80 pp. A keen and factual account.

SCHELLEN, Dr. Thomas Joseph Heinrich Das Atlantische Kabel (The Atlantic Cable: its Manufacture, Laying, and Working)
Braunschweig, Germany: 1867. 168 pp., 60 illustrations.
Book image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer
SCHENCK, Howard H. The World’s Submarine Telephone Cable Systems
(OT Contractor Report 75-2)
Washington, Government Printing Office: 1975. 291 pp. A survey of repeatered submarine telephone cables in service as of 1974, created for the US Department of Commerce, Office of Telecommunication.
First edition. A second edition was published in 1980, and a third in 1990.
SCHREINER, George Abel Cables And Wireless and Their Role in the Foreign Relations of the United States Boston: Stratford Co, 1924. 269 pp. Two folding maps.
The book is concerned mostly with policy and politics, but the appendices give useful details of the world cable industry, with 35 pages on cables and companies.
SCOTT, R. Bruce Gentlemen on Imperial Service Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1994. 131 pp. A Story of the Trans-Pacific Telecommunications Cable, told in their own words by those who served. *
SELWYN, Capt. J.H. Explanation of the Floating Cylinders for Laying Telegraphic Submarine Cables London: T. Piper, c. 1860. 18pp.
Info & image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer.
SHAFFNER, Taliaferro P. Memorial of Tal. P. Shaffner of Kentucky, praying for an amendment of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1857, entitled "An act to expedite telegraphic communication for the uses of the government in its foreign intercourse," so that the subsidy granted by the said act shall be general in its application to all Atlantic ocean telegraph lines. Washington, DC: 35th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Mis. Doc No. 263, 1858. 46 pp. disbound. Shaffner planned a northern overland/submarine telegraph route in competition to Field’s proposal, and was attempting to get the US government to fund it. *
SHAFFNER, Taliaferro Preston. The Telegraph Manual: A Complete History and Description of the Semaphoric, Electric and Magnetic Telegraphs of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, Ancient and Modern. New York: Pudney & Russell, 1859; 851 pp., portraits. A technical manual by the proponent of the Northern telegraph route. Contains a good overview of the state of submarine telegraphy at the time of publication.


SHIMURA, Seiichi., Ed. International Submarine Cable Systems Tokyo: KDD Engineering and Consulting, Inc., 1984. 509pp. A text on modern submarine cable systems. *
SIEMENS, C. William

The Scientific Works of C. William Siemens

Partial table of contents

London: John Murray, 1869, two volumes. Vol. II contains several papers on telegraphy and cables *
SIMONTON, J. W., and FIELD, Cyrus W. Atlantic Cable Mismanagement New York: 1871. 24 pp. About favoritism in scheduling messages. *
SMITH, Willoughby

A Résumé of the Earlier Days of Electric Telegraphy

Full text at Google Books

London: 1881. 56 pp. In English and French, by a participant of the 1865 and 1866 expeditions.
Originally presented as a paper at the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, held on Thursday, September 22nd, at 8.30 p.m., in the Electrical Exhibition, Palais de l’Industrie, Paris.


" "

The Rise and Extension of Submarine Telegraphy

Cover detail 1
Cover detail 2
Author’s inscription

Full text at Google Books

London: J.S. Virtue & Co., 1891. 4to.; 13, 390 pp., plates. Reprinted New York, 1974, Arno Press.


SOLOMON, Louis Voiceway to the Orient New York: McGraw Hill, 1964. 64pp. The laying of the first US - Japan Telephone Cable. Some good photographs of cable-laying equipment, and a prescient quote from 1964: "Some day, in the as yet inestimable future, a laser beam may simultaneously transmit more messages than all existing wires and radio waves put together". *
STEPHENS, J.H., Ed. Text Book on Telegraph Cable Engineering, Volume II: Construction and Maintenance of Submarine Cables and Land Lines London: Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies, 1927. 812 pp. Includes chapters on cable manufacture, laying, and repairing. *
SUTTON, Richard (Reporter) The Arguments in Favor of the International Submarine Telegraph in the Senate of the United States Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1857. 16pp.
Info and image courtesy of Jim Kreuzer.
TARRANT, D.R. Atlantic Sentinel. Newfoundland’s Role in Transatlantic Cable Communication

Available from FTL Design - click here to email me

St. John’s, Newfoundland: Flanker Press, 1999. The history of submarine cable communications in Newfoundland from 1856 to the present. *
THOMSON, William

Atlantic Telegraph Cable - The Forces Concerned in the Laying and Lifting of Deep-sea Cables

Full text of the paper

London: William Brown, 1866. 12 pp. An address delivered before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, December 18th, 1865.
Another edition of 31 pp. includes appendices.
Image courtesy of Bob Voss
TUCKER, Eleanor M. Laying the First Deep Sea Cable Between Cuba and Key West

Detail of cover illustration

Los Angeles: Bedrock Press, N.D. (author’s inscription dated 1954). 53pp.
The author’s father was a 14-year-old cabin boy on the 1867 Dacia cable expedition between Havana, Cuba, and Key West, Florida, and later told his story to his children. His daughter, Eleanor Tucker (who wrote Gospel stories under the name "Aunt Eleanor") re-tells his experiences in this book for young people. She intersperses stories of the cable laying with religious homilies, but if one can ignore the heavy-handed moralistic interjections this short work does present an interesting picture of life aboard an early cable ship.
(WEST, Charles) The Story of My Life. By the Submarine Telegraph

Click here for title page image

Full text at Google Books

London: C. West, 1859. 96 pp. An anonymous, biting review of the early history of submarine telegraphy.
Images courtesy of Bob Voss

Report of a Series of Experimental Observations on Two Lengths of Electric Cable, Containing, in the Aggregate, 1,125 Miles of Wire

Full text available at the link above

Brighton 1855. [23 pp. 5 plates. Wheeler Gift #4539. Whitehouse’s self-published pamphlet containing the full text of his British Association paper. *

The Atlantic Telegraph: the Rise, Progress, and Development of its Electrical Department

Full text available at the link above

London: 1858. 28pp.
Wheeler Gift #1433: “Introduction of gutta-percha, effect of induction, cable troubles.”

Reply to the Statement of the Directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company

Full text available at the link above

London: 1858. 27 pp. Stamp, Carlton Club. A defense after his discharge by the company. *

Recent Correspondence between Mr. Wildman Whitehouse and the Atlantic Telegraph Company with an Appendix Containing Every Telegram and Letter for Reference

Full text available at the link above

Published by the author, 1858. A follow up to Whitehouse’s Reply to the Statement (above). *

Submarine Cable Laying and Repairing

Full text (second edition) available at

London: "The Electrician" Printing and Publishing Company Ltd.
1896 first edition. 15, 406 pp.
1908 second edition, 557pp.
WINDOW, Frederick Richard On Submarine Electric Telegraphs London: Institute of Civil Engineers, 1857. 40 pp. Principally an engineering discussion of the early cables, but raising questions of priority, later rebutted by R. S. Newall. See Newall’s Facts and Observations Relating to the Invention of the Submarine Cable, above.


WINDOW, Frederick Richard The Atlantic, and South Atlantic, Telegraphs London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1859. 32pp + map. A pamphlet published in February 1859 after the failure of the 1858 cable, written by "A Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers", revealed in the text as F.R. Window. While describing itself as an impartial review of possibilities for future cables, the pamphlet is, in fact, a proposal for a cable on the South Atlantic route.


WINSECK, Dwayne R and PIKE, Robert M Communication and Empire: Media, Markets, and Globalization, 1860-1930 Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2007. 429 pp., softcover
Available from


WÜNSCHENDORFF, E. Traité de Télégraphie Sous-marine Paris: Librairie Polytechnique, 1888; 4to.; 14, 556 pp., 469 figs. A technical treatment for the engineer. Charles Bright’s 1898 book Submarine Telegraphs was "founded in part" on this work. *
Cable Meetings and Banquets
Author Title Description Ref

Report of the proceedings of the meeting held at the Silvertown India rubber works: for the purpose of discussing the merits of S.W. Silver & Co.’s patent caoutchouc insulator, May 27, 1859

London: John K. Chapman and Company, 1859. 14 pp.
Dibner Library, Smithsonian

Insulation for Submarine Telegraphy
Another pamphlet on the same subject.

London: Judd & Glass, Printers, [1860]. 8 pp.
ICE Library, London

Epitome of Proceedings at a Telegraphic Soirée, given by Samuel Gurney M.P., At 25, Prince’s Gate, Hyde Park, March 26,1862.

(click on title to see full text)

London: printed by Thomas Piper, 1862. 16 pp. A gathering of scientists and statesmen listen to Mr. Field and others on the practicality of international telegraphy.  *

Report of Proceedings of a Meeting Called to Further the Enterprise of the Atlantic Telegraph held at the Hall of the Chamber of Commerce, New-York, Wednesday, March 4, 1863. Prepared under the Supervision of John Austin Stevens, Jr., Secretary of the Meeting.

(click on title to see full text)

New York: Chamber of Commerce, 1863. 26 pp. Plans for the 1865 cable. *

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.

(click on title to see full text)

London: William Brown & Co., 1864. 32 pp. Printed for private circulation only.

A new, re-set edition of this Report was published in 1868, combined with the Report on the anniversary banquet held that year at the same location. See entry below.

1866 Report of the Proceedings at a Banquet given to Mr. Cyrus W. Field, by the Chamber of Commerce of New-York, at the Metropolitan Hotel, November 15th, 1866 New York: 1866. 4to.; 94 pp.; includes facsimile invitation, speeches, guest list.
Full text at Google Books

Europe and America. Report of the Proceedings at an Anniversary Banquet given by Mr. Cyrus W. Field, of New York at the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, London, on Tuesday, the 10th March, 1868.
In Commemoration of the Signature of the Agreement for the Establishment of a Telegraph across the Atlantic, on the 10th of March, 1854.

London: 1868. 40pp.
Full text at Hathi Trust
There is another edition of this report which is bound and paginated with a new edition of the Report of the Proceedings of the 1864 banquet at the same location (see above).
See also the Report on the 1873 anniversary banquet at the same location, below.

1868 Proceedings at the Banquet Held in Honour of Cyrus W. Field, Esq. of New York, in Willis’s Rooms, London, on Wednesday, 1st July, 1868. Revised by the Speakers. London: Metchim & Son, 1868. 80 pp.; includes Mr. Field’s reply to the honors paid him, telegraphic messages, and press reports of the banquet.
Full text at
1870 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. *

Proceedings at the Banquet, given by Mr. Cyrus W. Field, at the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, London, on Thursday the 28th November, 1872. The day appointed by the President of the United States for the Annual Thanksgiving.

(click on title to see full text)

London: R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, 1872. 46pp. *

Europe and America. Report of the Proceedings at an Anniversary Banquet given by Mr. Cyrus W. Field, of New York at the Buckingham Palace Hotel, London, on Monday, the 10th March, 1873, in Commemoration of the Signature of the Agreement on the 10th of March, 1854, for the Establishment of a Telegraph across the Atlantic.

(click on title to see full text)

London: [Joseph Causton] 1873. 23pp.
Although described as an anniversary banquet, the text makes it clear that this was an informal meeting of "The Globe Telegraph Company", an association of all the major figures in the cable industry which was intended to create a monopoly for the administration of worldwide cable communications.
See also the Reports on the 1864 and 1868 anniversary banquet at the same location, above.

1879 Ocean Telegraphy: The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary New York: 1879. 64 pp. A celebration at Mr. Field’s home.
Full text at Hathi Trust


1885 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. *
1888 Banquet given to Sir John Pender, K.C.M.G., at the Hotel Metropole, on Monday Evening, April 23rd, 1888. London: 1888. Printed by George Tucker at “The Electrician” Office, 1, Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, E.C. 38 pp.
In recognition of the prominent part which has from the outset been taken by Sir John Pender in Submarine Telegraphy.
1894 Souvenir of the Banquet and Evening Fete in Celebration of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Establishment of Submarine Telegraphy with the Far East London: George Tucker, 1894. 148 pp.
The Silver Jubilee of Submarine Telegraphy to the Far East: Celebrated at the Imperial Institute, South Kensington, London, S. W., On Friday Evening, July 20th, 1894: The Banquet under the Presidency of Sir John Pender; The Evening Fête and Reception under the Patronage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Other Members of the Royal Family.
Includes maps of the Eastern Telegraph Company system in 1869 and 1894.

Records of the Proceedings at Festivals Held in Connection with the Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of Submarine Telegraphic Communication with the Far East

London: privately printed, 1894, 48 pp. Proceedings of the banquet for Sir John Pender (16 Nov 1894); the dinner to the staffs of the companies (23 Nov 1894); and the dinner to the staff of the London station (1 Dec 1894).
Pender’s speech at the dinner includes some interesting reminiscences of the early days of the Atlantic Cable. The full text of the banquet proceedings is available at the link.
1901 Complimentary Dinner to Sir J. Denison-Pender, K.C.M.G., by the Directors and Staffs of the Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies, in the Victoria Hall, The Hotel Cecil, London, on Thursday, December 5th, 1901. London: 1901. 39 pp. *
1922 Fifty Years of “Via Eastern” London: Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies, 1922. 203pp. “This publication makes no pretext to be a history of Submarine Telegraphy but is merely a Souvenir and Record of the Celebrations in connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies.”
Full text at Hathi Trust
Sermons on the Atlantic Cable
Author Title Description Ref
COPP, Joseph A., D.D.

Rev. Dr. Copp’s Discourse on the Atlantic Telegraph
The Atlantic Telegraph: As Illustrating the Providence and Benevolent Designs of God. A Discourse Preached In The Broadway Church, Chelsea, August 8, 1858.

Reprint available from

Boston: T. R. Marvin & Son, 1858. 24 pp.



The Atlantic Telegraph: A Discourse Delivered in the First Church, August 8, 1858

Reprint available from

Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1858. 19 pp.


SPRAGUE, William B., D.D.

Sermon Addressed to the Second Presbyterian Congregation, Albany, on Sunday morning, September 5, 1858, on the Completion of the Atlantic Telegraph

Available from

Albany: Charles van Benthuysen, 1858. 32 pp.


van RENSSELAER, Cortlandt

Signals from the Atlantic Cable
An Address Delivered at the Telegraphic Celebration, September 1st, 1858, in the City Hall, Burlington, New Jersey

Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson, 1858. 24 pp.


Biographies (alphabetical by subject)
Author Title Description Ref
BRIGHT, Edward Brailsford & Charles Bright The Life Story of Sir Charles Tilston Bright, civil engineer, with which is incorporated the story of the Atlantic cable, and the first telegraph to India and the colonies

London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1898. 2 vols., 506 and 692 pp. First edition. The biography of the chief engineer of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, by his brother, Edward Brailsford Bright, and his son, Charles Bright.

London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1908. 20, 478 pp. Second edition, revised and abridged. This edition eliminates the appendices and much detail on the telegraphs themselves; Bright’s son is listed as the sole author.

A two-volume paperback edition was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012

(1st. ed.)
(2nd. ed.)
BROOKE Jr., George M. John M. Brooke - Naval Scientist and Educator Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1980. The biography of John M. Brooke, who was involved in the deep-sea sounding for the route of the 1857 Atlantic cable. *
No author listed The Story Of Cyrus Field - The Projector of The Atlantic Telegraph London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1875 (reprinted 1877 and 1879). 120 pp. A brief biography of Field, descriptions of the cable-laying voyages from 1857 to 1866, and a three-page appendix of Field’s speech at the Banquet given him in London on July 1st, 1868. *
JUDSON, Isabella Field Cyrus W. Field, His Life and Work New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896. 8, 332 pp. A documented biography by the third of Mr. Field’s four daughters.


McDONALD, Philip B. A Saga of the Seas New York: Wilson-Erickson Inc., 1937. 10, 288 pp. The story of Cyrus Field and the cable from the historian’s point of view. *
CARTER III, Samuel Cyrus Field: Man of Two Worlds New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1968. The most recent, comprehensive, biography of Cyrus W. Field. *
GOOCH, Sir Daniel Diaries of Sir Daniel Gooch, Baronet London: Kegan Paul, 1892. 24, 254 pp.; 3 plates. With an introductory note by Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B. Daniel Gooch, the first person to be knighted for his engineering works, supervised the Great Eastern’s cable-laying voyages of 1865, 1866 and 1869. This edition is an edited version of Gooch’s personal journal, diary, and memoirs (see below), and has about 150 pages on the Great Eastern and her cable-laying expeditions. *
GOOCH, Sir Daniel Sir Daniel Gooch - Memoirs & Diary Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1972. 386 pp., 15 plates.
This publication is the complete edition of the original manuscript of Gooch’s memoirs and diaries, edited by Roger Burdett Wilson. Wilson notes that while his transcript of the diaries is complete, the 1892 book (above) has more detail on the cable-laying expeditions, taken from Gooch’s daily journal, rather than the account from his memoirs used here.
To clarify: Gooch kept a daily journal until approximately 1868; in 1867 he began writing his memoirs, covering the same events in somewhat less detail. On the completion of his memoirs, he began to keep a diary.
PLATT, Alan The Life and Times of Daniel Gooch Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1987. 217pp. Many illustrations; a well-annotated biography with chapters on the Great Eastern cable expeditions. *
HUGHES, Ivor & David Ellis Evans

Before We Went Wireless
David Edward Hughes FRS
His Life, Inventions and Discoveries

Available from

Bennington, Vermont: Images from the Past, 2011.
This first biography of communications pioneer David Hughes also tells for the first time the full story of his involvement in the Atlantic cable project.
COOKSON, Gillian & Colin A. Hempstead A Victorian Scientist and Engineer: Fleeming Jenkin and the Birth of Electrical Engineering

Available from

Additional material from Robert Louis Stephenson’s Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin

Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2000. xii + 217 pp.
Fleeming Jenkin was one of the early British electrical engineers, instrumental in the successful laying of many submarine telegraph cables. This new biography is an excellent view of his life in all its aspects. Extensively researched from many primary sources, it gives details of the work of the electrical engineering pioneers of the Victorian era and provides a clear picture of the birth of a major industry.

Marconi, Father of Wireless

Available from

BookSurge, 2010. This wide-ranging biography of Marconi includes material on cable communications, ultimately Marconi’s greatest competitor, and a subject throughout the book. *
SILVERMAN, Kenneth Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F.B. Morse New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 503pp. A new biography of Samuel Morse, with much material on telegraphy and the Atlantic cable. *
BAKER, E.C. Sir William Preece F.R.S.
Victorian Engineer Extraordinary
London: Hutchinson, 1976.
Sir William Preece was involved in telegraphy in Britain throughout his long career; this biography includes information on his involvement with the Atlantic telegraph.
POLE, William The Life of Sir William Siemens London: John Murray, 1888. (reprinted in 1986 by Siemens Ltd.)
Siemens Brothers in England and Siemens & Halske in Germany were companies involved from the beginning in submarine telegraph cable making and laying, and their successor companies continue in the business to the present.
THOMPSON, Silvanus P. The Life of William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs London: 1910. 2 vols. *
Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Eastern
Author Title Description Ref
No author listed The Great Eastern; An Illustrated Description of the Great Steam-Ship London, (1859), 12mo., 33 pp., plates. A guide to the leviathan under construction.  
No author listed Pictorial History of the Great Eastern New York, (1860); folio, 39 pp., plates. A well illustrated introduction to the great ship on her arrival after her maiden voyage.  
BEAVER, Patrick The Big Ship - Brunel’s Great Eastern - A Pictorial History London: Hugh Evelyn Ltd., (c.1971). 136 pp. *
DUGAN, James The Great Iron Ship New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953. 272 pp. A breezy account of the Great Eastern. *
EMMERSON, George S. The Greatest Iron Ship. S.S. Great Eastern Newton Abbot, David & Charles. *
EMMERSON, George S. John Scott Russell - A Great Victorian Engineer and Naval Architect London, John Murray, 1977. A biography of the builder of the Great Eastern. *
POWELL, Rob Brunel’s Kingdom Bristol: Watershed, 1985. Catalogue of an exhibition of photography of Brunel’s works.


PUDNEY, John Brunel and His World London: Thames & Hudson, 1974. A well-illustrated history of Brunel’s engineering works, including a section on the Great Eastern.


REES, Jim The Life of Captain Robert Halpin Arklow, Ireland: Dee-Jay Publications, 2009. 179pp plus 10pp illustrations. A biography of the Captain of the Great Eastern, based mainly on Halpin’s private papers.


ROLT, L.T.C. Isambard Kingdom Brunel London: Longman’s Green & Co., 1957. A biography of Brunel.


Company Histories
Author Title Description Ref
AHVENAINEN, Jorma The Far Eastern telegraphs Helsinki: Finnish Academy of Arts and Letters, 1981. 226 pp.  
AHVENAINEN, Jorma The History of the Caribbean Telegraphs before the First World War Helsinki: Finnish Academy of Arts and Letters, 1996. 215 pp. *
AHVENAINEN, Jorma The European Cable Companies in South America Helsinki: Finnish Academy of Arts and Letters, 2004. 427 pp. *

A Half Century of Cable Service to the Three Americas 1878-1928

View full text at Hathi Trust

New York: All America Cables, Inc., 1928. 128pp. "This book, issued on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of All America Cables, Inc., is dedicated to the cabling public which the Company has been privileged to serve for the past half century. It purposes to present a panoramic narrative of the Company’s growth and also to introduce many of the personalities who have contributed so largely to the progress which it records." *
BAGLEHOLE, K.C. A Century of Service - A Brief History of Cable and Wireless Ltd. 1868-1968 London: Cable & Wireless Ltd., 1969. 54pp. A short history of the company and its cable-laying predecessors. *
BARTY-KING, Hugh Girdle Round the Earth. The Story of Cable and Wireless London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1979. The history of Cable and Wireless and its predecessors, involved in submarine telegraphy since 1851. *
BRIGHT, Charles Imperial Telegraphic Communication London: P.S. King & Son, 1911. 212 pp. Much information on the All-British globe-circling telegraph network. *
EASTERN ASSOCIATED TELEGRAPH COMPANIES Fifty Years of "Via Eastern" London: Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies, 1922. 203pp. "This publication makes no pretext to be a history of Submarine Telegraphy but is merely a Souvenir and Record of the Celebrations in connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies." *
GRAVES, Charles

The Thin Red Lines

London: Standard Art Book Co., n.d. [1946]. 183 pp. The story of the men and women in more than seventy countries who maintained the Cable & Wireless network during World War II. *

The Great Northern Telegraph Company
An Outline of the Company’s History 1869-1969

Copenhagen: the company, 1969. 64pp.
Well-illustrated history published for the company’s centenary.

The Iron Masters of Penns

Making the wire for the Atlantic Cable, 1866

Kineton: The Roundwood Press, 1971. 331 pp. A history of Webster & Horsfall, the company which supplied the armoring wire for the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic cables and other later cables. *
JOHNSON, George, Ed. The All Red Line - The Annals and Aims of The Pacific Cable Project Ottawa: James Hope & Sons, 1903. 486 pp. *
No author listed The Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company Limited
Presented by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co., Ltd. on the occasion of the visit of the delegates to the International Telegraph Conference to their Gutta Percha Works. Wharf Road, City Road, London, N. on 16th June, 1903.
London: The Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co. Ltd., 1903. Printed for private circulation only.
Souvenir volume. 56pp., frontispiece, nine plates (including one photographic) and a folding map. Parallel English and French text.
LAWFORD, G.L. & NICHOLSON, L.R. The Telcon Story London: The Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co. Ltd., 1950. A history of the original cable company and its successors on its 100th anniversary. *
MORTON, John Thomas Bolton & Sons Limited, 1783-1983

Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing, 1983. 154 pp. Well-illustrated history of the firm of Thomas Bolton & Sons. Originally Staffordshire copper and brass makers they became major manufacturers of copper cables, finally becoming part of BICC. The firm supplied copper conductor for most of the early Atlantic cables.
Image courtesy of Allan Green.
SETH-SMITH, Michael Two Hundred Years of Richard Johnson & Nephew Manchester: Richard Johnson & Nephew Limited, 1973. 292 pp. A history of the company which supplied the armoring wire for the 1857 and 1858 Atlantic cables, and performed the galvanizing on the 1866 cable armoring wire. *
Siemens - SCOTT, J.D. Siemens Brothers 1858-1958 London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1958. 279 pp. *
Siemens - WEIHER, Sigfrid v. and GOETZLER, Herbert The Siemens Company - Its Historical Role in the Progress of Electrical Engineering 1847-1980 Berlin & Munich: Siemens AG, 1983. Second edition. *
SLATER, Ernest One Hundred Years - The Story of Henley’s - 1837-1937 London: W. T. Henley’s Telegraph Works, 1937. 78 pp. *
SOUDEN, David Voices Over the Horizon: Tales from Cable & Wireless Cambridge: Granta Editions, 1997. 281 pp.
Personal stories of Cable & Wireless from 1930 into the 1970s
SOUDEN, David Voices of Changes: Further
Tales from Cable & Wireless
Cambridge: Granta Editions, 2001. 216 pp.
Continues the story into the late 1990s
STRAY, J.F. INSIDE AN INTERNATIONAL: Forty Years in ‘Cable and Wireless’ London: Regency Press, 1982. 332 pp.
The author worked for Cable & Wireless and its predecessors from 1915 until 1955.
No author stated The Story of S.T.C. 1883-1958
London: Standard Telephones & Cables Ltd. 1958. 108 pages.
Issued to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary
YOUNG, Peter Power of Speech
A History of Standard Telephones and Cables 1883-1983
London: George Allen & Unwin 1983. 221 pages.
A company-sponsored history
Films and Videos
If a film is available on YouTube or other on-line services, the title will link to it.
Almost all of the early cable films appear to be lost, and are known only through brief entries in film catalogues or directories of the period.
Date Producer Title Description Ref
1917 Paramount-Bray Repairing a Sub-Sea Cable

A 35mm half-reel short film, also available in 16mm on nitrate or safety film. This film shows raising a trans-Atlantic cable for repairs, then submerging it again.
Known only from listings in Weaver and Woodring.
This is believed to be the earliest listed film about submarine cables.

1921 Frederic M. Dowd Productions for All America Cables Linking the Three Americas A one-reel short film, known only from directory listings and a review in Educational Film Magazine in December 1921.  
1922 British Pathé Laying a Talk Highway 3-minute newsreel, silent B&W, on the laying of the 1921 Key West to Havana cable.  
1924 US Signal Corps The U.S. Army transport ship “Dellwood” Two-reel silent film on the laying of the Alaskan cable by the US Army Signal Corps in 1924.
The US National Archives has a copy of this film, but it is not available on line. There is, however, a description of the film at the link.
See also the catalog entry for Army Lays Submarine Cables, Alaska, undated.
c.1924 Mackay System / Commercial Cable Company The Pulse of the World 52-minute silent film "Presenting various chapters in the Story of World Communications Courtesy of The Mackay System.
A Pathéscope Production
Not found in any catalogue. The Museum of the Antique Wireless Association (AWA) has added a music soundtrack and posted a video on its YouTube channel.
1925 Western Electric.
Produced by Charles W Barrell.
Speeding up our Deep Sea Cables

35mm, two reels. Laying the permalloy cable between New York and the Azores. Available from the Western Electric Company Motion Picture Bureau.
Known from listings in Weaver, Blue Book and Woodring.
The subject is the 1924 cable laid from New York to the Azores for Western Union. The AT&T Archives has a copy of the scene-by-scene description of the film.

1926 US Signal Corps Building for Service 35mm film, B&W, one reel. This film reviews some of the present development projects being completed for the national and international telephone service and includes views of telephone construction work, including the laying of cable between Florida and the West Indies.
Listing in Weaver.
The US National Archives has a copy of this film, but it is not available on line. However, what appears to be a short (1:20) clip from this film may be viewed at Critical Past.
The clip shows President Harding at a celebratory dinner, an event described in the Nation Archives listing for the film as “commemorating the completion of the cable to Cuba.” The cable shown in this extract would have been one of the three cables laid in 1921 between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba for the Cuban American Telephone & Telegraph Co.
1926 US Signal Corps Activities of the Cableship “Dellwood” on the Gulf of Alaska, June, 1926 Silent film on the laying and repairing of the Alaskan Cable.
The US National Archives has a copy of this film, but it is not available on line. There is, however, a description of the film at the link.
1926 US Signal Corps Operations on the Cableship “Dellwood” at Seattle, Washington Silent film on the repair of the Alaskan Cable, December 1925.
The US National Archives has a copy of this film, but it is not available on line. There is, however, a description of the film at the link.
1929 AT&T Hello Europe

35mm, one reel, sound-on-film or silent. The film follows a radiotelephone signal from the Northeastern seaboard of the USA, across the North Atlantic to the United Kingdom, and on to the low countries, Germany, and Scandinavia. It depicts telephone central offices, personnel quarters and construction work in the Old World, showing with animated maps the submarine cables under the English Channel and the North Sea that link London with the Continent.
Listed in Weaver. AT&T Archives has a silent copy with a running time of 9:28, available on line.

Pre-1930   Marine Cable Laying This film shows how a cable is laid at sea, with some of the difficulties.
Known only from a listing in Woodring.
1930 US Signal Corps Laying Submarine Cable Three reels, showing CS Faraday, the loading of cable onto CS Dellwood at Woolwich, and the laying of the cable to Alaska.
The US National Archives has a copy of this film, but it is not available on line. There is, however, a detailed description of the film at the link.
1930 Western Electric Business in Great Waters 35mm sound film, B&W, two reels. This film portrays the process of laying the high speed ocean telegraph of 1928 between Newfoundland and the Azores with the C.S. DOMINIA, largest submarine cable ship afloat. Directed and narrated by Charles Wisner Barrell.
Known only from a listing in Weaver and this note in The Film Daily issue of 2 June 1930: “It has already been given nearly 400 exhibitions in the metropolitan district alone.”
c.1930 Western Electric Laying the World's Fastest Ocean Cable off Newfoundland 35mm film, B&W, two reels. This was filmed during the work of connecting England and America with the new permalloy submarine telegraph cable.
Known only from listings in Weaver and Woodring.
See also the previous entry.
c.1931   Underwater Speechways

35mm, one reel, sound-on-film. This picture shows three of the most interesting submarine cable installations — Cape Cod to Martha's Vineyard cable, the Golden Gate cable at San Francisco, and the Mississippi River cable in Louisiana. Special musical score with vocal interludes by a male quartette.
Known only from a listing in Weaver and a story in the Turtle Mountain Star on 11 February 1932 reporting on a showing of the film at a local school, courtesy of Northwestern Bell.

1933 GPO/New Era Films

Cable Ship


16mm sound film, B&W, 12 minutes. Filmed mainly at sea aboard HMTS Monarch (3). Details at the BT Archives; also available on the BFI compilation DVD “Addressing The Nation: The GPO Film Unit Collection Volume 1”
More information at the BFI.
Pre-1934   Under the Seven Seas

35mm, one reel. This picture shows the laying and the repair of the submarine cables under the Atlantic Ocean. Available from the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company.
Known only from a listing in Weaver.

1934 GPO

Conquering Space; the story of modern communications


Sound film, B&W, 10 minutes. Has eight seconds of “cable and machinery on a cable-laying ship” at 8:31. Details at the BT Archives  
c.1939 AT&T Underwater Cable

Sound film, B&W. The laying of a telephone cable across San Francisco Bay

1950 Bell System / AT&T Telephone Cable To Cuba Video transfer from 16mm sound film, B&W, 15 minutes.
Shows the new developments and construction techniques used in laying the Key West-Havana underwater cables
1952 Cable & Wireless Voices Under the Sea Videotape copy of 16mm film, B&W, 19 minutes. Made for the Festival of Britain.
Describes the cableship services of Cable and Wireless Ltd. Shows how 11 cables at Ascension Island link the United Kingdom with the Company’s network of ocean cable, and how these are maintained in the perilous waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. Includes scenes shot aboard the c.s. "Norseman" one of the Company’s repair ships.
1954 Cavalcade of America The Great Gamble 16mm sound film, B&W. A television series episode on Cyrus W. Field *
1955   Through the Sea We Speak
16mm sound film, B&W, 14 minute, directed by Olive Negus.
Three children tour CS Recorder (3) moored at the Telcon works on the Thames at Greenwich
1955 BT Heritage T.A.T.
The Cable Route Through Newfoundland

Silent, colour, 45 minutes.
Workmen laying the transatlantic telephone cable at the Newfoundland end. [TAT-1]
1956 BT Heritage Transatlantic telephone cable, US material Silent, B&W, 12 minutes.
Black and white material showing scenes from the laying of the Transatlantic Telephone cable. Includes shots of HMTS Monarch, USA telephone operators, the terminal sites where the cable comes ashore, transmission apparatus, tugboats bringing cable ashore, jointing of the cable.
1957 Film Producers Guild for the Central Office of Information (UK) Atlantic Link Video transfer from 16mm sound film, colour, 18 minutes.
The laying of TAT-1 by HMTS Monarch.
1957 John Sutherland Productions for the Long Lines division of AT&T The Voice Beneath the Sea

Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 27 minutes.
The construction and laying of TAT-1

1957 John Sutherland Productions for the Long Lines division of AT&T Link to the North

Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 11 minutes.
Laying a cable in 1956 from Port Angeles, Washington State, to Ketchikan - Skagway, Alaska

1958 Bell Telephone Laboratories Submarine Cable System Development Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 18 minutes
The technology behind the first repeatered telephone cables
1959 John Sutherland Productions for the Long Lines division of AT&T Cable to the Continent Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 15 minutes
The laying of TAT-2
1962 Supreme Sound Studios, Sydney, for the Pacific Cable Management Committee 80 Channels Under the Sea Video transfer from 16mm sound film, colour, 22 minutes
The laying of COMPAC, the Commonwealth Pacific Cable, which went into service in 1963
1965 AT&T Long Lines CS Long Lines Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 28 minutes.
AT&T's cable ship, CS Long Lines
1969   Voices from the Deep Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 12 minutes.
Development of the cable plough by AT&T, and its use in laying the 1968 cable from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
1971 BT Heritage No Ordinary Cargo
Sound, colour, 22 minutes.
A detailed account of the laying of the first submarine cable from the UK (Kennack) to Spain (Algorta) by CS Alert in 1970. The cable is shown being paid out from the cable tanks and into the ocean. The shore end, deep sea sections of cable are shown as well as the tricky manual laying of the last of 52 repeaters.
The film ends with the jointing of the sea section to the shore section on the deck of CS Alerts off the coast of Cornwall followed by a brief history of submarine cables.
Aspects of the working life on the cable ship are shown including the captain, radio operator, doctor and seamen.
1973 World Wide Pictures for the International Cable Protection Committee The Catch that Nobody Wants Video transfer from 16mm sound film, color, 21 minutes.
The ICPC is responsible for the protection of subsea cables worldwide. The film shows how cables are made and laid—and the hazards of ships’ anchors and trawling gear to cables. A section shows in detail how broken cables are recovered and repaired.
1980 AT&T Cable Split Video, color, 8 minutes.
This story about the repair of a Florida to St. Thomas cable, is from "Issue 15" of Long Lines Journal, a video newsmagazine produced for employees of AT&T Long Lines.
The video is available at the AT&T Tech Channel.
1983 AT&T Lightwave Undersea Cable System Video, color, 19 minutes.
In 1983, when this film was made, fiber optic cables were still in the research and development phase for underwater use.
The first transatlantic telephone cable to use fiber optics, or lightwave systems, was TAT-8, which went into operation in 1988. This film shows its development and testing.
The video is available at the AT&T Tech Channel.
See also this page on the sea trials of the SL cable system
1984 A Jerry Fairbanks Production for AT&T Long Lines Voices from the Deep: The ANZCAN Cable Story 16mm sound film, color, 25 minutes.
The laying of ANZCAN. Scenic film of process of laying cable from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via Fiji. “Facts and Figures” section at end details cable diameter, length, depth, circuit capacity, and repeater spacing.
The Smithsonian has a videotape copy of this film in its Western Union archive.
2000 History Channel Transatlantic Cable: 2500 Miles of Copper Videotape, color, 50 minutes. From the series "Modern Marvels". *
2002 Engstfeld Film GmbH Last Chance Trans-Atlantic Videotape, color, 45 minutes. From the series "Mission X". German language documentary on the Atlantic Cable. *
2005 PBS The Great Transatlantic Cable DVD, color, 60 minutes. From the series "American Experience".
PBS page on the show
2006 Discovery Channel Communication From the series "Inventing History" (series 1, episode 8). Advances in communications beginning in the 19th century. *
2006 BBC TV Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly From the series "Coast" (series 2, episode 4). This episode has a segment on the cable history at Porthcurno, Cornwall. *
2007 BBC TV Galway to Baltimore From the series "Coast" (series 3, episode 6). This episode has a segment on the cable history at Valentia, Ireland *
2007 Piper Films for ABC Australia A Wire Through the Heart 55 minutes. The construction of the Overland Telegraph, which linked with the 1871 cable at Port Darwin.
View on YouTube
2008 Discovery Channel Tyco Resolute 45 minutes. From the series "Mighty Ships". CS Tyco Resolute laying a branch of PAC-1 to Costa Rica. *
2010 PBS Transatlantic Cable From the series "History Detectives". This episode has a segment on a cable found on the beach at Orleans, Massachusetts. *
2011 Channel 4 (UK) Brunel’s Last Launch 45 minutes. From the series "Time Team Specials". This episode explores the early history of the Great Eastern, but has no cable material.
View on YouTube
2011 BBC TV The Age of Invention From the series "Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity". This episode has a segment on cable communications.. *
2012 BBC TV Life Beyond the Edge From the series "Coast" (series 7, episode 2). This episode has a segment on the Great Eastern and the Atlantic cable. *
2013 BBC TV The Man Who Shrank the World 30 minutes. From the "Groundbreakers" series. William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and the Atlantic Cable. *
2014 BBC TV Offshore! From the series "Coast" (series 9, episode 4). This episode has a segment on the 1858 cable at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland. *
2014 BBC TV The CS Mackay-Bennett 60 minutes. From the series "Clydebuilt: The Ships That Made the Commonwealth". This episode is on the cable ship Mackay-Bennett. *
2021 History Channel Cable Across the Sea
(Subscription required to view. Also available at Amazon as episode 6.)

43 minutes. Episode 6 from the series “The Engineering That Built the World.
While Cyrus Field was laying a cable across the Atlantic, Perry Collins was attempting a land connection via Alaska and Siberia. The episode presents this as what was actually a mostly non-existent competition.
The story is generally well told, but would have been improved by using additional specialist contributions instead of somewhat inexpert explanations of technical issues by the History Channel's resident experts-on-everything.


Film Directory References:

Blue Book: 1000 and One (Fourth Edition). The Blue Book of Non-Theatrical Films. Published and Copyrighted, June, 1926 by The Educational Screen inc., 5 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, ILL.

Weaver: Bibliography of technical and industrial motion picture films and slides compiled by G.G. Weaver, Supervisor of Industrial Teacher-Training, E.S. Ericsson, Member of the Teacher-Training Faculty, New York State Department of Industrial Teacher-Training, 1934.

Woodring: Enriched teaching of commercial subjects in the high school, Maxie Nave Woodring & Gilbert Harold, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, 1930


Last revised: 2 October, 2023

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