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Vail, Alfred 1807-1859

Inventor; born in Morristown, N. J., Sept. 25, 1807; graduated at the University of the City of New York in 1836; became interested in the experiments of Prof. Samuel F. B. Morse (q. v.), whom he greatly aided in the perfection of the telegraph. In 1837 he constructed a miniature telegraph line on the plan of Morse's invention, which was examined and pronounced practicable by a committee of Congress. Subsequently he built the first Morse machine, and became the assistant superintendent of the telegraph line constructed between Baltimore and Washington. On May 24, 1844, he received from Washington the first message sent over telegraph wires. His inventions include the lever and grooved roller; the alphabetical application of the Morse dot-and-dash system; the first combination of the horizontal lever to move a pencil, pen, or style; a telegraphic alphabet of dots, spaces, and dashes; and the finger-key. He published The American electro-magnetic Telegraph. He died in Morristown, N. J., Jan. 18, 1859.

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