On April 18, 1846 American inventor Royal Earl House
received U.S. patent 4,464
for what he called "The Magnetic Letter-Printing Telegraph." The most distinctive aspect of House's system was that the telegrapher typed the message on an alphabetic keyboard, without the use of the Morse code, and the terminal at the other end of the telegraph line printed out the message on paper tape in Roman characters.
"By 1846, the Morse
telegraph service was operational between Washington, DC, and New York. Royal Earl House patented
his printing telegraph
that same year. He linked two 28-key piano-style keyboards by wire. Each piano key represented a letter of the alphabet and when pressed caused the corresponding letter to print at the receiving end. A "shift" key gave each main key two optional values. A 56-character typewheel at the sending end was synchronised to coincide with a similar wheel at the receiving end. If the key corresponding to a particular character was pressed at the home station, it actuated the typewheel at the distant station just as the same character moved into the printing position, in a way similar to the daisy wheel printer
. It was thus an example of a synchronous data transmission system. House's equipment could transmit around 40 instantly readable words per minute, but was difficult to manufacture in bulk. The printer could copy and print out up to 2,000 words per hour. This invention was first put in operation and exhibited at the Mechanics Institute
in New York in 1844" (Wikipedia article on Royal Earl House).
By 1855 the House Printing Telegraph operated an extensive range of telegraph lines from Boston to New York and Washington and west to Cleveland and Cincinnati, and south to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. In 1849 the owners of the Morse patents sued House for patent infringement, but House won the suit since his system did not use the Morse code. However, after the general consolidation of competitive telegraph interests took place House's apparatus went out of use, and his system merged with the Morse system to form the Great Western Telegraph Company.
House clearly modeled his system after conventional printing technology, calling his data entry system a "composing machine" and his printing system a "printing machine." The third paragraph of his patent read as follows:
"Said machine consists of two parts: first of that part which is to be stationed at the place from which intelligence is to be transmitted, and which, for convenience of distinction, I denominate the 'composing-machine,' second, of that part which is to be stationed at the place to which intelligence is to be communicated, and which, for the same reason, I denominate the 'printing-machine.' These two parts are to connected by elecric or galvanic conductors, which conductors are to connect with any known generator of electricity or galvanism, and form a circuit through or along, which, when connected, a current of electricity or galvanism will pass. These two parts of said machinery are chiefly propelled by the power of weights, the electric or galvanic force being applied and used only to regulate the motion of the printing-machine by means herinafter described, and which requires much less power than is necessary to propel the machinery, and thus both the advantage of the instantaneous action of the electric or galvanic force and the greater power of the weights are combined in the accomplishment of the work for which the machinery is intended."