|Born||25 December 1763|
|Died||23 January 1805 (aged 41)|
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche was a French astronomer, best known for his observations of the transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769.
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.
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". However, the Army preferred to use the word telegraph, meaning "far writer", which was coined by French statesman André François Miot de Mélito. 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 . Alternatively, Chappe coined the phrase semaphore , from the Greek elements σῆμα (sêma, "sign"); and from φορός (phorós, "carrying"), or φορά (phorá, "a carrying") from φέρειν (phérein, "to bear").
André François Miot de Mélito (1762–1841) was a French statesman and scholar. His position survived the French Revolution.
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.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.
Condé-sur-l'Escaut is a commune of the Nord department in northern France.
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.He was said to be depressed by illness, and claims by rivals that he had plagiarized from military semaphore systems.
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.
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.
Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual or symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas pigeon post is not.
Pierre Corneille was a French tragedian. He is generally considered one of the three great seventeenth-century French dramatists, along with Molière and Racine.
A semaphore telegraph is a system of conveying information by means of visual signals, using towers with pivoting shutters, also known as blades or paddles. Information is encoded by the position of the mechanical elements; it is read when the shutter is in a fixed position. The most widely used system was invented in 1792 in France by Claude Chappe, and was popular in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. Lines of relay towers with a semaphore rig at the top were built within line-of-sight of each other, at separations of 5 to 20 miles. Operators at each tower would watch the neighboring tower through a spyglass, and when the semaphore arms began to move spelling out a message, they would pass the message on to the next tower. This system was much faster than post riders for conveying a message over long distances, and also had cheaper long-term operating costs, once constructed. Semaphore lines were a precursor of the electrical telegraph, which would replace them half a century later, and would also be cheaper, faster, and more private. The line-of-sight distance between relay stations was limited by geography and weather, and prevented the optical telegraph from crossing wide expanses of water, unless a convenient island could be used for a relay station. Modern derivatives of the semaphore system include flag semaphore and the heliograph.
Optical communication, also known as optical telecommunication, is communication at a distance using light to carry information. It can be performed visually or by using electronic devices. The earliest basic forms of optical communication date back several millennia, while the earliest electrical device created to do so was the photophone, invented in 1880.
Télégraphe is a station on line 11 of the Paris Métro in the 19th and 20th arrondissements. The station's tracks are separated by a supporting wall, because it is built in soft ground.
Charles Jules Henry Nicolle was a French bacteriologist who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his identification of lice as the transmitter of epidemic typhus.
Émile-Auguste Chartier, commonly known as Alain, was a French philosopher, journalist, and pacifist. He adopted his pseudonym in homage to the 15th-century Norman poet Alain Chartier.
Nanterre is a commune in the Hauts-de-Seine department, the western suburbs of Paris. It is located some 11 km (6.8 mi) north-west of the centre of Paris.
The history of telecommunication began with the use of smoke signals and drums in Africa, the Americas and parts of Asia. In the 1790s, the first fixed semaphore systems emerged in Europe; however it was not until the 1830s that electrical telecommunication systems started to appear. This article details the history of telecommunication and the individuals who helped make telecommunication systems what they are today. The history of telecommunication is an important part of the larger history of communication.
A signal station is a form of Aids to Navigation that is defined by the IHO simply as "A signal station is a place on shore from which signals are made to ships at sea". While this broad definition would include coastal radio stations and fog signal stations, the term is most often used for shore installation that use visual signals to communicate with ships at sea.
Lefaux is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region of France.
Parcé-sur-Sarthe is a commune in the Sarthe department in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire in north-western France.
Louis Marie Jules Charles Bastien was a French Esperantist and a quartermaster in the French army. In 1899 he married Marguerite Pfulb (1879–1941); the couple had three daughters and two sons. In school he learned mathematics, classical French literature, Latin and Greek and learned to compose Latin verse. After a year of preparatory studies at l'Ecole Sainte-Geneviève in Versailles he entered l'Ecole Polytechnique in 1887 at the age of 17. Not having the maturity of his older classmates, he did not excel in his studies and, on graduation in 1889, had to content himself with a military career.
The Prussian Semaphore System was a telegraphic communications system used between Berlin and the Rhine Province from 1832 to 1849. It could transmit administrative and military messages by optical signal over a distance of nearly 550 kilometres (340 mi). The telegraph line comprised 62 stations each furnished with a signal mast with six cable-operated arms. The stations were equipped with telescopes that operators used to copy coded messages and forward them to the next station. Three dispatch departments located in Berlin, Cologne and Koblenz handled the coding and decoding of official telegrams. Although electric telegraphy made the system obsolete for military use, simplified semaphores were still used for railway signals.
The Fort du Télégraphe, or Fort Berwick, is located in the Maurienne valley on the road to the Col du Galibier between Valloire and Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, at the Col du Télégraphe, dominating the valley of the Arc. The location at an altitude of 1,585 metres (5,200 ft) previously accommodated a telegraph of the Chappe system using articulating arms to send messages between Lyon and Milan, and after 1809, Venice. The fort has two entrances with drawbridges to allow access to different levels of the fort, with inclined ramps to allow easy movement of artillery pieces. When completed in 1884 after four years of construction, the fort was manned by 170 men, firing four artillery pieces at the main fort and four more at detached batteries.
The Lycée Pierre-Corneille is a state secondary school located in the city of Rouen, France.
The Fort de Valros is a ruined small castle or fortress in the commune of Valros in the Hérault département of France. In the mid-19th century, the fort was the site of a semaphore station.
Michel Vergé-Franceschi is a French naval historian.
The Foy-Breguet telegraph was an electrical telegraph of the needle telegraph type invented by Louis-François-Clement Breguet and Alphonse Foy in 1842. The system used two-needle instruments that presented a display using the same code as that on the optical telegraph of Claude Chappe. The Chappe telegraph was extensively used in France by the government, so this arrangement was appealing to them as it meant there was no need to retrain operators.