Royal Earl House


1814 – 1895


Who was Royal Earl House?

Royal Earl House was the inventor of the first printing telegraph, which is now kept in the Smithsonian Institution. His nephew Henry Alonzo House is also a noted early American inventor.

Royal Earl House spent his childhood in Vermont experimenting, designing, and building, a habit which would earn him distinction as an adult. He once caught a toad, skinned it, placed a set of springs in the skin and made it hop. Around 1840, he went to Buffalo, New York to live with relatives and attend law school in that town. However, he read a work on electricity which so inspired him that he decided to give up law and study the science of electricity instead. He was also interested in mechanics, chemistry and magnetism.

By 1846, the Morse telegraph service was operational between Washington, DC, and New York. Royal Earl House patented his printing telegraph that same year. He linked two 28-key piano-style keyboards by wire. Each piano key represented a letter of the alphabet and when pressed caused the corresponding letter to print at the receiving end. A "shift" key gave each main key two optional values.

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on July 23, 2013


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