Staying up all night working on his code and such for the glory of France, Napoleon still had time for other long-lasting achievements—namely, his optical telegraph. Well, “long-lasting” may be overstating the case, but the emperor’s network of signaling stations was definitely a precursor to Morse’s “electric” telegraph and, though never fully implemented in North America, had an impact on communications right up to the twentieth century. The name Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, for example, is one vestige of the never-fully-realized American system.
Communications revolution set in motion by optical telegraph and early telephone.
HUMANITIES, March/April 2011, Volume 32, Number 2