Telegrams related to the sinking of the Titanic: Marconi originals from Titanic sister ship Olympic, 1912

If telephones were the first network to piggyback on the electrical telegraph network, then the second was what was known as “wireless telegraphy.” This early use of radio to send Morse Code was a form of point-to-point “narrow-casting.” It was especially useful for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication. A dramatic example of the medium is documented in an original 1912 wireless message from the passenger steamship Olympic, sent on the night that her sister ship Titanic sank – and a set of five copies of other related messages held in the Walker Library. The messages show the desperate scramble by The White Star Line’s management in New York to learn how many people had actually survived the Titanic disaster. They were received by other nearby ships and by the White Star Line offices in New York City.