How The First Ever Telecoms Scam Worked

  • Published on: 01 October 2018
  • In the 1830s, two French brothers, FranΓ§ois and Joseph Blanc, pulled off the first telecoms scam in history. The optical telegraph, a line of semaphore towers stretching from hilltop to hilltop, was for government use only: but something as simple as the law wasn't going to get in their way.

    Thanks to Victoria Harrison for all her research and translation skills! Pictures of the original documents are uploaded here:

    CG effects by Mat Hill:

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  • Runtime : 5:49
  • tom scott tomscott optical telegraph semaphore line blanc brothers FranΓ§ois and Joseph Blanc high frequency trading hft stock exchange paris stock exchange financial fraud things you might not know


  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott   1 years ago

    Quick tip if you ever go to France: don't let the rental car company give you a free upgrade to an SUV. SUVs do not fit well on tiny rural French roads.

  • KeppyKep
    KeppyKep   1 weeks ago

    I'm amazed the stock market is that old!

  • Adam W
    Adam W   3 weeks ago

    I always thought this was called The Clacks.

  • Adam Kendall
    Adam Kendall   1 months ago

    I get terrible semaphore reception where I live.

  • Teddy H
    Teddy H   1 months ago

    So they basically just played Telephone

  • Grz349
    Grz349   1 months ago

    No what I find funny? in the 1830's this was a scam, but now it's common and accepted practice.

  • Federico Olivares
    Federico Olivares   1 months ago

    There were 0 indians and or nigerians, this is clearly false

  • Andrew
    Andrew   2 months ago

    It's the clacks!

  • MrUnseen
    MrUnseen   2 months ago

    Didn't also Napoleon use these telegraphs and won some battles thanks to the information, that reached him through it.

  • januzi2
    januzi2   2 months ago

    I've read this story in one of the Terry Pratchett's books.

  • Elso
    Elso   2 months ago

    So the system was basically the "now all of China knows you're here" scene from mulan.

  • R
    R   2 months ago

    What a great video! Great content, excellent writing and delivery, high production value... just a great channel all around! One of my favorite subscriptions!

  • fuckfannyfiddlefart
    fuckfannyfiddlefart   2 months ago

    Notice how the superior French democracy banned the scam but in America they INDULGE the scammers.

  • fuckfannyfiddlefart
    fuckfannyfiddlefart   2 months ago

    Capitalists using massive resources to achieve some socially and environmentally destructive aim in order to game the system.Nothing new there, nothing good there, and this continues today, it will ALWAYS continue......until we stop capitalism.

  • Big Blue
    Big Blue   2 months ago

    I have heard this story before but in was very interesting to hear it again. Thanks for that.

  • Doctor Lolchicken
    Doctor Lolchicken   2 months ago

    And I thought semaphore towers were only a Discworld invention

  • Howard SIX
    Howard SIX   2 months ago

    just a point Tom, its "aerials" not "antennas".barsteward yankism again.H6UK.

  • 1323GamerTV
    1323GamerTV   3 months ago

    Uuugggghhhhhhhh Capitalism isn’t a bad thing

  • Astrocat2374
    Astrocat2374   3 months ago

    30 seconds in and this sounds like me blaming the router for my death in a video game

  • rockets4kids
    rockets4kids   3 months ago

    If you count Galileo's telescope, the benefits of advance information for financial transactions goes back considerably further.

  • Alf Noakes
    Alf Noakes   3 months ago

    Anyone who has read Terry Pratchett's Discworld series will recognise this method of communication ...

  • Tie Shianna
    Tie Shianna   3 months ago

    Damned Clacks, we should going postal on them.

  • Tim Collins
    Tim Collins   3 months ago

    I hate how high frequency trading is in the way of investing these days. Investors lose enough money to fees already.

  • Martin Bruhn
    Martin Bruhn   4 months ago

    Names don't just translate. They are in english what they are in french. No changes made (I give you that though, that last names sometimes have a litteral meaning)

  • dan110024
    dan110024   5 months ago

    My brain heard you say "any errors are hers and not mine". I was like, you dog!

  • RayRae 559
    RayRae 559   5 months ago

    Love how you took blame for any inconsistencies in the story.