Victorian illustration to download showing a picture of the paying-out machine for laying the Atlantic Telegraph cable on the deck of HMS Agamemnon, 1858. The large complex machine, an assemblage of drums and cogs, stands under a wooden shelter. Sailors and engineers stand by. The first attempt to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic was made in 1857, but was abandoned when the cable broke. In 1858 HMS Agamemnon and USS Niagara met in the middle of the ocean and headed for opposite sides. Again the cable broke, but further attempts were made, and on 16August 1858 the first telegraph message was sent across the Atlantic. However, in September the cable failed – its insulation was not strong enough for the voltage – and the next attempt was not made until 1864.