12 Facts About Claude Chappe


Claude Chappe was a French inventor who in 1792 demonstrated a practical semaphore system that eventually spanned all of France.


Claude Chappe's system consisted of a series of towers, each within line of sight of others, each supporting a wooden mast with two crossarms on pivots that could be placed in various positions.


Claude Chappe was born in Brulon, Sarthe, France, the son of Ignace Chappe, a controleur of the Crown lands for Laval, and his wife Marie Devernay, daughter of a physician of Laval.


Claude Chappe was raised for church service, but lost his sinecure during the French Revolution.


Claude Chappe was educated at the Lycee Pierre Corneille in Rouen.


Claude Chappe's uncle was the astronomer Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche, famed for his observations of the Transit of Venus in 1761 and again in 1769.


The first book Claude read in his youth was his uncle's journal of the 1761 trip, "Voyage en Siberie".


Claude's brother, Ignace Chappe was a member of the Legislative Assembly during the French Revolution.


The Claude Chappe brothers determined by experiment that the angles of a rod were easier to see than the presence or absence of panels.


Claude Chappe was said to be depressed by illness, and claims by rivals that he had plagiarized from military semaphore systems.


In 1824 Ignace Claude Chappe attempted to increase interest in using the semaphore line for commercial messages, such as commodity prices; however, the business community resisted.


One of the last messages sent over the Claude Chappe telegraph was news of the fall of Sevastopol in 1855.