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One tale, published in the 1877 anthology, Lightning Flashes And Electric Dashes, imagines a male telegraphic operator on an out-of-town jaunt meeting a female of the same calling. The pair begin to flirt in Morse Code, she using a window fastener to click out messages while he replies by tapping his pencil – all in front of her blissfully unaware parents.Which teenager hasn’t used social media or apps in the same sort of subterfuge?They were identified by a code with no reference to their gender.However, skilled operators could deduce a lot by the way their colleagues tapped out messages, leading to much intrigue and speculation.“It was thrilling for them to be in touch with unknown hands at distant keys,” says Laura Otis, author of Networking: Communicating With Bodies And Machines In the 19th Century.“Intimately connected to the keys and wires that provided their raison d’etre, 19th-century telegraphers viewed their electric tongues and nerves as extensions of their own bodies.’”In this somewhat feverish atmosphere it is not surprising that romances sprang up with some operators teasingly sending messages to unsuspecting colleagues further down the line.Down Fan unseen network, lovers exchange sweet nothings and messages hop swiftly between strangers seeking romance.
It was the opening up of work as telegraphists to women, as well as men, that was to lead to romantic opportunities.
They did so courtesy of the electrical telegraph which, during the last three decades of the 19th century, had revolutionised communication.
Messages tapped out by telegraph operators using Morse Code oiled the wheels of business, diplomacy – and romance.
“Governments and regulators tried and failed to control the new medium of telegraphy.
A technical sub-culture with its own customs and vocabulary was established.