World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Royal Earl House

Article Id: WHEBN0004002657
Reproduction Date:

Title: Royal Earl House  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Teleprinter, Printing telegraph, Computer keyboard, Electrical telegraph, Timeline of United States inventions (before 1890)
Collection: 1814 Births, 1895 Deaths, American Inventors
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Royal Earl House

Royal Earl House (9 September 1814 – 25 February 1895) was the inventor of the first printing telegraph, which is now kept in the Smithsonian Institution. His nephew Henry Alonzo House is also a noted early American inventor.

Royal Earl House spent his childhood in Vermont experimenting, designing, and building, a habit which would earn him distinction as an adult. He once caught a toad, skinned it, placed a set of springs in the skin and made it hop. Around 1840, he went to Buffalo, New York to live with relatives and attend law school in that town. However, he read a work on electricity which so inspired him that he decided to give up law and study the science of electricity instead. He was also interested in mechanics, chemistry and magnetism.

By 1846, the Morse telegraph service was operational between Washington, DC, and New York. Royal Earl House patented[1] 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.

In 1886 and 1887, when the Royal E. House telegraph company was producing the printing telegraph, the Morse Telegraph company tried to enjoin (legally prevent) them from infringing on the Morse patents. Morse claimed the sole right of transmitting intelligence by electricity, utilizing the Morse code. The courts decided the House Company did not infringe the Morse patent, as the messages using the House system were all printed on a slip of paper, without the use of Morse Code.

Later the House Co. and the Morse Co. joined and formed the Great Western Telegraph Company.


  1. ^ "US patent #4464". 
  • Short bio and listing of House's papers in the Smithsonian

External links

  • Detailed breakdown of House's first patent (patent #4464)
  • Detailed breakdown of a later improved patent that included pneumatic/steam power (patent #9505)

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.