Émile Baudot


Émile Baudot : biography

September 11, 1845 – March 28, 1903

First use

The Baudot system was accepted by the French Telegraph Administration in 1875, with the first online tests of his system occurring between Paris and Bordeaux on November 12, 1877. At the end of 1877, the Paris-Rome line, which was about , began operating a duplex Baudot.

The Baudot apparatus was shown at the Paris Exposition Universelle (1878) and won him the Exposition’s gold medal, as well as bringing his system to worldwide notice.


  • 1881 – Diploma of Honor from the International Electrical Exposition.
  • 1882 – Gold medal from the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (SEIN)
  • 1889 – Ampere Medal from SEIN
  • 1878 – Knight’s Cross of the Légion d’honneur
  • 1882 – Knight of the Order of Leopold
  • 1884 – Knight of the Order of Franz Joseph of Austria.
  • 1891 – Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy
  • 1898 – Promoted to Officier of the Légion d’honneur
  • 1900 – Knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
  • 1901 – Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy
  • A no longer existing street in Paris’ 17th Arrondissement was named after Baudot.: : "Disappeared following the development of the Boulevard Périphérique in 1971. Began boulevard de Reims and ended rue Elie de Beaumont. Formerly part of the rue Louis Blanc, formerly located on the territory of Levallois-Perret."
  • In 1926 the International Telegraph Communications Advisory Committee of the International Telecommunication Union met in Berlin and immortalised Baudot by designating the baud – shortened from his name – as the unit of telegraph transmission speed.
  • In 1949, the French Post Office issued a series of stamps with his portrait. By mistake, the year of his birth was given as 1848, not the correct 1845. The stamp was corrected and reprinted with a different color. However, the erroneous stamps still circulate among philatelists and have greater value than the corrected stamps.

Mimault patent suit

In 1874, French telegraph operator Louis Victor Mimault patented a telegraph system using five separate lines to transmit. After his patent was rejected by the Telegraph Administration, Mimault modified his device to incorporate features from the Meyer telegraph and obtained a new patent which was also rejected. In the meantime, Baudot had patented his prototype telegraph a few weeks earlier.

Mimault claimed priority of invention over Baudot and brought a patent suit against him in 1877. The Tribunal Civil de la Seine, which reviewed testimony from three experts unconnected with the Telegraph Administration, found in favor of Mimault and accorded him priority of invention of the Baudot code and ruled that Baudot’s patents were simply improvements of Mimault’s. Neither inventor was satisfied with this judgment, which was eventually rescinded with Mimault being ordered to pay all legal costs.

Mimault became unnerved because of the decision, and after an incident where he shot at and wounded two students of the École Polytechnique (charges for which were dropped), he demanded a special act to prolong the duration of his patents, 100,000 Francs, and election to the Légion d’honneur. A commission directed by Jules Raynaud (head of telegraph research) rejected his demands. Upon hearing the decision, Mimault shot and killed Raynaud, and was sentenced to 10 years forced labour and 20 years of exile.

Final years

Baudot married Marie Josephine Adelaide Langrognet on January 15, 1890. She died only three months later, on April 9, 1890.

Soon after starting work with the telegraph service, Baudot began to suffer physical discomfort and was frequently absent from work for this reason, for as long as a month on one occasion. His condition affected him for the rest of his life, until he died on March 28, 1903, at Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris, at the age of 57.

Later career

After the first success of his system, Baudot was promoted to Controller in 1880, and was named Inspector-Engineer in 1882.