Early Leakage Currents
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system, which performed remarkably well over long distances in the arid
American west, was greatly limited in distance when installed on the
humid east coast. Leakage currents through the water-impregnated wire
insulation greatly attenuated the signals, especially when buried underground.
To cure the problem, Sir William Thompson invented gutta-percha insulation,
and in 1847 designed a screw-press for coating the wires with the gum
rendered plastic by heat.