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Todd loved to invent puns and, with a Cambridge professor, was a co-discoverer of the planet Neptune.

Image title:
Charles Todd

State Library of South Australia

Image ID:
B 12209

Charles Todd (1826–1910)

Astronomer and engineer

Todd was trained in England and came to South Australia when he was thirty. He was to work for the government putting up telegraph lines and observing the stars and the weather. The telegraph was a new invention that allowed messages to be sent down a wire. Once there was network of telegraph lines, weather forecasting became possible, because reports of wind direction, atmospheric pressure and rain could be sent in from many places. Forecasters could then create a weather map.

Within months of his arrival, Todd set up the first telegraph line in South Australia, from Adelaide to its port. He extended the telegraph network to all the major towns and linked it with Victoria's system. His greatest achievement was to build the Overland Telegraph Line across the centre of Australia. This line linked up with a telegraph cable that came under the sea from Asia. When this was complete, Australia was in touch by telegraph with London. Messages that took months by letter on ships could now travel in less than a day.

The telegraph bound Australia together long before Federation.