In 1857 the first attempt to lay a cable across the Atlantic
was made. The USS Niagara
and HMS Agamemnon
with high hopes, only to have the cable break after only 380 miles. They could not repair or recover it.
In 1858, they tried again. The two ships met midway to begin laying cable. It snapped after only 160 miles. They met in the middle again and this time they succeeded, reaching Ireland in August 1858. However, the cable didn't work very well and failed after only a month.
In 1865, another ship, the Great Eastern
made a crossing from Ireland to Newfoundland
to lay 2233 miles of cable. It snapped with only 600 miles to go, and recovery attempts failed.
In 1866, they found the snapped-off cable, spliced it, and had the first functional trans Atlantic cable.
The race was on!
By september of 1866, two cables were operating. By 1896 there were 160000 nautical miles of cable connecting the world.
In 1901 Guglielmo Marconi
demonstrated trans-Atlantic radio
broadcasts between Newfoundland and England, ending the cable monopoly and beginning the new wireless
era. Physicists, formerly claiming Marconi was nuts, had discovered the ionosphere