Claude Chappe

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Claude Chappe
AduC 175 Chappe (Claude, 1765-1828).JPG
Claude Chappe
Born25 December 1763
Died23 January 1805 (1805-01-24) (aged 41)
Nationality France
Engineering career
Projects semaphore system
Significant advance telecommunications

Claude Chappe (25 December 1763 – 23 January 1805) was a French inventor who in 1792 demonstrated a practical semaphore system that eventually spanned all of France. His system consisted of a series of towers, each within line of sight of others, each supporting a wooden mast with two crossarms on pivots that could be placed in various positions. The operator in a tower moved the arms to a sequence of positions, spelling out text messages in semaphore code. The operator in the next tower read the message through a telescope, then passed it on to the next tower. This was the first practical telecommunications system of the industrial age, and was used until the 1850s when electric telegraph systems replaced it.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Telecommunication transmission of information between locations using electromagnetics

Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between communication participants includes the use of technology. It is transmitted either electrically over physical media, such as cables, or via electromagnetic radiation. Such transmission paths are often divided into communication channels which afford the advantages of multiplexing. Since the Latin term communicatio is considered the social process of information exchange, the term telecommunications is often used in its plural form because it involves many different technologies.



One example of Chappe telegraph tower, in Narbonne, in the south of France. Telegraphe Chappe - tour Jonquieres 7.JPG
One example of Chappe telegraph tower, in Narbonne, in the south of France.

Chappe was born in Brûlon, Sarthe, France, the grandson of a French baron. He was raised for church service, but lost his sinecure during the French Revolution. He was educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen. [1]

Sarthe Department of France

Sarthe is a department of Pays de la Loire situated in the Grand-Ouest of the country. It is named after the River Sarthe, which flows from east of Le Mans to just north of Angers.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

His uncle was the astronomer Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche famed for his observations of the Transit of Venus in 1761 and again in 1769. The first book Claude read in his youth was his uncle's journal of the 1761 trip, "Voyage en Siberie". His brother, Abraham, wrote "Reading this book greatly inspired him, and gave him a taste for the physical sciences. From this point on, all his studies, and even his pastimes, were focused on that subject." Because of his astronomer uncle, Claude may also have become familiar with the properties of telescopes. [2]

Jean-Baptiste Chappe dAuteroche French astronomer

Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche was a French astronomer, best known for his observations of the transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769.

Transit of Venus astronomical transit of Venus across the Sun

A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and a superior planet, becoming visible against the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually several hours. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than three times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.

He and his four unemployed brothers decided to develop a practical system of semaphore relay stations, a task proposed in antiquity, yet never realized.

Claude's brother, Ignace Chappe (1760–1829) was a member of the Legislative Assembly during the French Revolution. With his help, the Assembly supported a proposal to build a relay line from Paris to Lille (fifteen stations, about 120 miles), to carry dispatches from the war.

Chappe's telegraph Telegraphe Chappe 1.jpg
Chappe's telegraph

The Chappe brothers determined by experiment that the angles of a rod were easier to see than the presence or absence of panels. Their final design had two arms connected by a cross-arm. Each arm had seven positions, and the cross-arm had four more permitting a 196-combination code. The arms were from three to thirty feet long, black, and counterweighted, moved by only two handles. Lamps mounted on the arms proved unsatisfactory for night use. The relay towers were placed from 12 to 25 km (10 to 20 miles) apart. Each tower had a telescope pointing both up and down the relay line.

Chappe first called his invention the tachygraph, meaning "fast writer" [3] . However, the Army preferred to use the word telegraph, meaning "far writer", which was coined by French statesman André François Miot de Mélito. [4] Today, in order to distinguish it from subsequent telegraph systems, the French name for Chappe's semaphore telegraph system is named after him, and thus is known as a télégraphe Chappe [5] . Alternatively, Chappe coined the phrase semaphore [6] , from the Greek elements σῆμα (sêma, "sign"); and from φορός (phorós, "carrying"), [7] or φορά (phorá, "a carrying") from φέρειν (phérein, "to bear"). [8]

André François Miot de Mélito French politician and diplomat

André François Miot de Mélito (1762–1841) was a French statesman and scholar. His position survived the French Revolution.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

In 1792, the first messages were successfully sent between Paris and Lille. [5] In 1794 the semaphore line informed Parisians of the capture of Condé-sur-l'Escaut from the Austrians less than an hour after it occurred. Other lines were built, including a line from Paris to Toulon. The system was widely copied by other European states, and was used by Napoleon to coordinate his empire and army. [5]

Condé-sur-lEscaut Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Condé-sur-l'Escaut is a commune of the Nord department in northern France.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

In 1805, Claude Chappe killed himself. [9] He was said to be depressed by illness, and claims by rivals that he had plagiarized from military semaphore systems.

Demonstration of the semaphore Chappe semaphore.jpg
Demonstration of the semaphore

In 1824 Ignace Chappe attempted to increase interest in using the semaphore line for commercial messages, such as commodity prices; however, the business community resisted.

In 1846, the government of France committed to a new system of electric telegraph lines. Many contemporaries warned of the ease of sabotage and interruption of service by cutting a wire. With the emergence of the electric telegraph, slowly the Chappe telegraph ended in 1852. [5]

The Chappe semaphore figures prominently in Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo . The Count bribes an underpaid operator to transmit a false message.

A bronze sculpture of Claude Chappe was erected at the crossing of Rue du Bac and Boulevard Raspail, in Paris. It was removed and melted down during the Nazi occupation of Paris, in 1941 or 1942. [10]

See also

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  2. "The Early History of Data Networks". Archived from the original on 1 April 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  3. Beyer, p. 60
  4. Le Robert historique de la langue française, 1992, 1998
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  6. Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions & Discoveries of the 18th Century, Jonathan Shectman, p. 172
  7. Oxford English Dictionary.
  8. Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  9. "Claude Chappe (French engineer)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on June 25, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  10. "Where the Statues of Paris were sent to Die". 7 January 2016. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.