The Fascinating and Complicated Story of How the First Transatlantic Cable Was Laid

Never has a story been filled with more setbacks and failures.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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Never has a story been more fascinating or complicated than the one about how the first transatlantic cable was laid. It all started in 1850 when a north-eastern cable was laid that was set to be the largest communication cable yet.

The cable went from the north-east coast of America in Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and its construction was led by a man named Frederick Newton Gisborne. Gisborne firmly believed that the cable could be extended across the Atlantic to Britain.

Luckily, he met a businessman named Cyrus West Field who also believed in the idea had the funds to make it happen. Gisborne and Field founded the New York Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company and began their first attempt at creating the transatlantic line in 1857.

This would prove a much more difficult journey than anticipated and would come with many setbacks and failures. But in then it would result in a line that would allow Queen Victoria and U.S. President, James Buchanan to send the first and rather wordy message on August 16, 1858. The message took 16 hours to send, according to 1843 Magazine.

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What's the rest of the story you ask? Watch the video and find out for yourself.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article said that U.S. President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria sent the first message through the transatlantic line in 1958. This is incorrect. The first message was sent between the two national leaders in the year 1858. The earlier version of this article also said that the first message across the transatlantic cable took "just shy of 18 hours to send." This, too, is incorrect. The first message took 16 hours. IE regrets these errors.

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