A Brief History of Ideas About Communication

Information is advantage. The faster you can get it, the more advantage you have.

Before 1837, information could only be communicated as fast as a man could ride a horse, or if the weather was good, people could climb to the top of the nearest hill and communicate with mirrors or smoke signals. In 1837 Charles Wheatstone patented the electric telegraph. It was a simple on and off switch used to send the morse code of dots and dashes devised by Samuel Morse.

In 1866 a telegraph cable was connected across the Atlantic. This was the first electric communication across an ocean.

In 1876 Alexander Bell patented the telephone and soon the were telephones in offices and private homes. Where people had to send messenger boys or telegraphs or go personally to talk to someone, now they could phone. Still though, every call had to be connected personally by an operator.

In 1888, Heinrich Hertz showed how to make radio waves, and in 1901 Marconi radio signals across the Atlantic. In 1922, the British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC - started a radio service to broadcast radio programs to the home. Between the first and second world wars, most British homes gained a radio set.

In 1926 John Logie Baird built the first television set, and the BBC started tv services in 1932.

The modern electronics revolution began with the invention of the transistor in 1948, by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley. Transistor radios were being sold from 1954 and the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 led to the computer revolution. In 1965 Olivetti built the first computer small enough to fit on a desk. Within 20 years computers were indispensable office tools. In 1991 however, came the internet. The internet gave birth to email, instant messaging, video conferencing for any individual with an internet connection and a webcam.

In 1960s Star Trek episodes, characters communicated with each other from a distance using communicators smaller than the size of a packet of cards. In fact, mobile telephony had existed since the 1960s, fitted into some cars in the United States. The first hand held device was built in 1973.

During the 1990s, phones became smaller, their batteries lasted longer. The first text message was sent in 1992. Content could be downloaded from 1998, some simple payments made, In 1999 a Japanese company launched a mobile phone internet service and from 2001 the same company launched a high speed mobile service suitable to watch video on.

The Blackberry, Apple iphone and later smartphones made phones into pocket PCs, able to access email, maintain diaries and appointment calenders and even operate tiny spreadsheets and wordprocessors. Every smartphone now comes with a range of downloadable applications or apps. These can do anything from take your pulse or detect metal, enable you to manage your blog or website, bank account, take pictures or video, communicate with friends by video calling, messaging... A typical smartphone now has close to a million helpful little aids to your life available.

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