Abstract: Relationships and Linkages between Railways and Telegraphy in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Networks, Technology, and Management

Andrea Giuntini


During the nineteenth century, railroads and telegraphy represented two among the most astonishing wonders in the world. These most technologically relevant large technical systems were built in parallel in Europe. Starting from the very beginning, around the 1830s, railways and telegraphy followed the same path. Both contributed to the birth and to the development of the idea of networks: subsequent networks were modeled on the establishment of the railways and the telegraph lines. The two technologies also jointly constituted a major event in terms of their popular and social impact on European societies, representing for a long time the frontiers of novelty and presaging a future completely immersed in progress. First, then telegraphy, and finally the transatlantic cable absorbed the Europeans' ecstatic attention and raised the most sensational expectations. This paper traces the parallel development and management of, and reactions to, these technical advances.