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Paul Julius Reuter


23 Finsbury Square

Paul Julius Reuter, born Julius Israel Beer Josaphat, was the son of a rabbi. (It was on converting to Christianity in 1844 that he adopted the names Paul and Reuter.) Born in Kassel, Germany, he lived initially at 23 Finsbury Square when he moved to London.

As a young man working in his uncle’s bank in Göttingen, he had met the mathematician and physicist, Carl Friedrich Gauss, who was experimenting at the time with the electric telegraph. The new technology made an impression. Reuter moved on to work in a small publishing house in Berlin, where some radical pamphlets he published brought him to the unwelcome attention of the authorities. He escaped to Paris, which by now had telegraph lines to Brussels, as also Berlin had to Aachen. Reuter figured out that, if he used carrier pigeons between Aachen and Brussels, he could send news from Paris to Berlin faster than by any conventional means.

Pigeons were not needed for long. Telegraph cabling was expanding apace, and when Reuter moved to London in 1851, he started persuading business users to subscribe to his news service, with its promise to keep them ahead of the game. Soon undersea cabling was offering fast news transmission around the world, and Reuter’s subscription-based news service was set to become the global success story that it remains today.

Paul Julius Reuter
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