166 Years Later: Samuel Morse’s First Message

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Modern-day telephone cables

Vladimir Godnik/Corbis

Whether you’re a cellular or landline aficionado: May 24 is a telecommunications day to remember. Without Samuel F.B. Morse and a single experimental wire, both technologies may never have existed.

On May 24, 1844, Morse dispatched the first telegraphic message from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore. The Library of Congress details how Morse’s initial message was taken from the Bible, and suggested by a young daughter of one of Morse’s friends. And no, she didn’t have BBM to tell him about it.

If you’re wondering where that level of genius comes from in modern times, peruse TIME’s 2009 list of the 50 best inventions.