Lead: The first transatlantic telegraph linked Europe with North America in 1858. It quickly failed, but the prospect of near instant intercontinental communication was an idea that would not be allowed to die.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: The problem was primitive technology: cable construction, transmission equipment and laying apparatus. After the brief exchange between Queen Victoria and U.S. President James Buchanan in 1858, massive celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic heralded a new day in communications. The new day lasted 271 messages before the 1858 submarine cable sputtered out. Suddenly the temporarily cowed skeptics were in full cry and potential investment began to dry up. This did not discourage cable advocates, Charles Bright, William Thompson Fleeming Jenkins and New York businessman Cyrus Field. For them the expeditions of the 1850s served as laboratories from which they learned things about the infant science of electricity, submarine cable design and cable laying. They went back to work and by 1861, the Atlantic Telegraph Company and the British Board of Trade had produced an analysis of previous failures and a plan that led to success. More importantly, experience had convinced the government in London that submarine telegraphy would smooth governance of a vast Empire.