Shilling, Pavel Lvovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shilling, Pavel L’vovich


Born Apr. 5 (16), 1786, in Tallinn; died July 25 (Aug. 6), 1837, in St. Petersburg. Russian scientist, electrical engineer, and Orientalist.

After graduating from the First Cadet Corps in 1802, Shilling served on the Russian general staff. Between 1806 and 1812, he served on the staff of the Russian embassy in Munich. He distinguished himself in battle in the Patriotic War of 1812. After the war, Shilling served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he established the first state lithographic shop in Russia. In 1829 he developed a unique lithographic method for reproducing Chinese texts.

While serving as an official in the Department of Eastern Affairs, Shilling studied the languages and history of various Asian peoples. In 1828 he became a corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in the area of Oriental literature and antiquities. Between 1830 and 1832, he took part in a scientific expedition to Eastern Siberia and compiled a valuable collection of Tibetan and Mongolian literary monuments.

In 1812, Shilling took up the study of electrical engineering and designed a mine with an electric fuze. In the same year, the first experimental detonation of the mine was carried out in the Neva River in St. Petersburg. Mines designed by Shilling were used in special subunits of the Russian Army.

Shilling’s best known work was concerned with electric telegraphy. In 1832, Shilling invented a key-actuated telegraph, which he used to develop an electromagnetic telegraph system. In his electromagnetic system, a special six-unit code, which he also developed, was used to transmit electric signals over an eight-wire line. Later, in 1835 and 1836, Shilling constructed a system that used a single-needle telegraph and a two-wire line; he also developed an original binary code. In 1835, he demonstrated his telegraphic inventions in Bonn at a congress of the German Society of Naturalists and Physicians. In 1836, in accordance with a commission from the Russian government, Shilling laid an underground telegraph line between rooms located at opposite ends of the Admiralty in St. Petersburg.

While he worked on electric mines and telegraphs, Shilling also developed special insulated electrical cables. In 1837 he drew up a design for a submarine electromagnetic telegraph line between Petergof and Kronstadt. However, his sudden death prevented the implementation of his plans.


“Opisanie elektromagnitnogo telegrafa P. L. Shillinga.” Voprosy istorii estestvoznaniia i tekhniki, 1956, issue 1.


Iarotskii, A. V. Pavel L’vovich Shilling. Moscow, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.