The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers

Front Cover
Berkley Books, 1999 - Science - 227 pages
For thousands of years people had communicated across distances only as quickly as the fastest ship or horse could travel. Generations of innovators tried to develop speedier messaging devices. Then, in the mid-1800s, a few extraordinary pioneers at last succeeded. Their invention--the telegraph--nullified distance and shrank the world quicker and further than ever before, or since. This book tells the story of the telegraph's creation and remarkable impact, and of the visionaries, oddballs, and eccentrics who pioneered it. By 1865 telegraph cables spanned continents and oceans, revolutionizing the ways countries dealt with one another, giving rise to creative business practices and new forms of crime. Romances blossomed over the wires. The benefits of the network were hyped by advocates and dismissed by skeptics. Government regulators tried and failed to control the new medium. And attitudes toward everything from news gathering to war had to be completely rethought.--From publisher description.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star


User Review  - Kirkus

The telegraph, which now seems a curious relic, was once cutting-edge technology, every bit as hot, Standage reminds us, as today's Internet. Rapid delivery of messages to distant places was a wild ... Read full review

The Victorian Internet: the remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In his first book, British science journalist Standage gives an engaging and readable account of the invention, growth, and decline of the telegraph. In the preface and epilog, Standage claims that by ... Read full review


The Mother of All Networks
Strange Fierce Fire
Electric Skeptics

13 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1999)

Tom Standage is a journalist and author from England. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked as a science and technology writer for The Guardian, as the business editor at The Economist, has been published in Wired, The New York Times, and The Daily Telegraph. His non-fiction works include The Victorian Internet, A History of the World in Six Glasses, An Edible History of Humanity (on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014), and Writing on the Wall: Social Media -- The First 2,000 Years.

Bibliographic information