Émile Baudot

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Jean-Maurice-Émile Baudot (September 11, 1845 – March 28, 1903), French telegraph engineer and inventor of the first means of digital communication Baudot code, was one of the pioneers of telecommunications. He invented a multiplexed printing telegraph system that used his code and allowed multiple transmissions over a single line.[1]


Early life

Baudot was born in Magneux, Haute-Marne, France, the son of farmer Pierre Emile Baudot, who later became the mayor of Magneux. His only formal education was at his local primary school, after which he carried out agricultural work on his father's farm before joining the French Post & Telegraph Administration as an apprentice operator in 1869.[1]

The telegraph service trained him in the Morse telegraph and also sent him on a four-month course of instruction on the Hughes printing telegraph system, which was later to inspire his own system.

After serving briefly during the Franco-Prussian War, he returned to civilian duties in Paris during 1872.[2]


The Telegraph Service encouraged Baudot to develop during his own time a multiple Hughes system for time-multiplexing several telegraph messages. He realised that with most printing telegraphs of the period the line is idle for most of the time, apart from the brief intervals when a character is transmitted. Baudot devised one of the first applications of time-division multiplexing in telegraphy. Using synchronized clockwork-powered switches at the transmitting and receiving ends, he was able to transmit five messages simultaneously; the system was officially adopted by the French Post & Telegraph Administration five years later.

Baudot invented his telegraph code during 1870 and patented it during 1874. It was a 5-bit code, with equal on and off intervals, which allowed telegraph transmission of the Roman alphabet, punctuation and control signals. By 1874 or 1875 (various sources give both dates) he had also perfected the electromechanical hardware to transmit his code. His inventions were based on the printing mechanism from Hughes' instrument, a distributor invented by Bernard Meyer during 1871, and the five-unit code devised by Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber. Baudot combined these, together with original ideas of his own, to produce a complete multiplex system.

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