Prior to the laying of the first transatlantic cable in 1858, messages between Great Britain and the North America would take up to 10 days to deliver – the time it would take to sail between the two nations. American Cyrus West Field, a pioneer in the telegraphy field, had long desired to change this with a cable spanning the width of the Atlantic Ocean.
Finally, following four unsuccessful attempts between 1857 and 1858, ships emanating from both sides of the ocean would meet in the middle, enabling the connection of two cables and the creation of a network 2,000 miles long and two miles deep. This cable was completed with hardly any problems on July 27, 1866. It was pulled ashore in the tiny fishing village of Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, establishing the first permanent cable to exist between the two continents.
Messages could now be delivered to Newfoundland with great speed. The 1866 cable, which differed little from the previous year’s design, was much faster and could now send up to eight words per minute. In 1866 it cost $10 per word and there was a 10-word minimum. According to The Atlantic a farmer could feed himself for 60 days for the cost of a single word. As thus, 90% of communications were sent by big businesses.