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British Industrial History

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Benjamin Smith (1838-1899)

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Benjamin Smith (1838-1899)

M.I.E.E, Divisional Manager of the Eastern Telegraph Co.

Died 1899 aged 61.[1]

1900 Obituary [2]

BENJAMIN SMITH, who died on the 9th of August, 1899, was born in 1838, at Newhaven, near Brighton.

He was educated in Newhaven, and gained his earliest business experience in a bank in that town.

He was next attached, first to the Electric and International Company, and then to the telegraph department of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company.

Leaving this employment in 1857, he was with the Atlantic Telegraph Company until 1861, during which period he acted as an assistant electrician in the expedition which successfully laid the 1858 Atlantic cable.

He afterwards joined Messrs. Glass, Elliott & Company, and obtained with them considerable experience in cable-laying.

At a later date he joined the Eastern Telegraph Company, serving successively at Tripoli, Malta, Aden, Alexandria, and Bombay.

In 1879 he was transferred to the Eastern and South African Company, and from 1882 until 1899 was their divisional manager at Alexandria. By his work in the decade 1870-1880 he contributed substantially to the development of duplex telegraphy as applied to submarine work, and introduced a bridge method of his own in 1876.

In 1879, with the aid of his recorder-switch, he introduced a "human relay system," by which was facilitated the forwarding of messages through intermediate stations in which no electromechanical relay was used. He received several decorations from the Egyptian Government in recognition of his services at various times.

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