Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




According to the British electrical engineer A. P. Trotter, elec- trical engineering began at the 1881 Paris International Electrical Exposition. Like all historical phenomena, electrical engineering came into existence gradually, not suddenly. In France, the host country of the electrical exposition, telegraphy provided the foun- dation for the start of electrical engineering. As demonstrated by an examination of the training of telegraph instrument manufacturers and employees of the telegraph service; the technologies, tech- niques, and organization of the network; the institutions associated with the telegraph system; and the resolution of the day-to-day diffi- culties of managing the telegraphs, French telegraphy was a highly scientific undertaking. Such an examination also demonstrates that telegraph service employees and instrument manufacturers organized research and development, created programs of tele- graph instruction that led to the founding of France's first electri- cal engineering school (the Ecole superieure de Telegraphie), and defined telegraph engineering as an engineering specialty before 1881. The creation of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs and the ministry's hosting of the 1881 exposition permitted the telegraphs to play a commanding role in the formation of France's pioneer elec- trical engineering institutions: the Societe internationale des Electri- ciens and the Laboratoire central d'Electricite. With the emergence of electrical lighting and telephony in the 1870s, a growing private electrical industry challenged the position of the state telegraphs. This theme of state v. private engineers provided the background for the emergence of electrical engineering in France immediately prior to 1881 and had significant implications for subsequent develop- ments in French electrical engineering, such as the introduction and extension of the telephone and radio and the creation of France's major telecommunications research center (the Centre national d'Etudes des Telecommunications) in the present century.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Andrew J. Butrica



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354 pages