History Of Communication
Since the beginning of time, people have had the need to communicate with one
and other. The most common type of communication is speech, but you could not talk to
someone who lived 20 miles away. Then written language was developed, people marked
symbols on paper, stone, or whatever was available. Then hundreds of years passed, and
people who wanted to share their ideas with people had to do allot of writing, until
someone thought to make a writing machine. This machine is called the printing press.
Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press is widely thought of as the origin of
mass communication– it marked Western culture’s first viable method of disseminating
ideas and infomation from a single source to a large and far-ranging audience. The story of
print is a long and complax one. It may be too much to claim that print was the single
cause of the massive social, political and psychological changes it is associated with.
However, print did wield enormous influence on every aspect of European culture. Some
historians suggest that print was instrumental in bringing about all the major shifts in
science, religion, politics and the modes of thought that are commonly associated with
modern Western culture.
Gutenberg foresaw enormous profit-making potential for a printing press that used
movable metal type. Despite their rapid growth in numbers, secular scribes simply could
not keep up with the commercial demand for books. Gutenberg also saw strong maket
potential in selling indulgences, the slips of paper offering written dispensation from sin
that the Church sold to fund crusades, new buildings and other projects devoted to
expanding its dominance. In fact, press runs of 200,000 indulgences at a time were
common soon after the handwritten versions became obsolete.
There were many different innovations since the first hand operated printing press.
The Stanhope press, which was widely used for many years, still used a hand-operated
screw to press print and paper, but it could print up to 250 sheets an hour. A considerable
improvement was the Colombian press. In this press, the typical screw method was
eliminated, and replaced with powerful hand levers.
All of there presses, and variants of them, had two features in common: they were
manually operated, and the flat surfaces of print and paper were pressed together by a
screw or lever. A man names Fredric Koenig invinted the steam press, this press has a
cylinder which rolled the paper over the inked type. This press was much more efficient,
and could print up to 1000 sheets per hour. Since then the printing press has progressed
greatly, the fastest printing press in the world can print up to 110,000 sheets an hour.
The Morse system of telegraphy was invented by Samuel Morse in the 1840s in the
United Strates. “Morse Code” is essentially a simple way to represent the letters of the
alphabet using patterns of dots and dashes. A unique pattern is assigned to each character
of the alphabet, as well as to the ten numerals. These long and short pulses are translated
into electrical signals by an operator using a telegraph key, and the electrical signals are
translated back into the alphabetic characters by a skilled operator at the distant receiving
morse telegraphy became the standard method of electrical communication in both
the United States and Europe due to its simplicity and ability to work on inferior quality
wires. In 1851, countries in Europe adopted a new code known as “continental” or
“international” code. This new code was a modification of the original Morse. The new
code eliminated the characters using spaced dots which were found to cause errors in
transmission on undersea cables. The new code became the standard for all telegraph work
except in north america where the original Morse was used on all landline circuits (except
for undersea cable).
The applications of the Morse telegraph were many. Tha most well known of these
to the general public was the commercial telegram service. The railroads were an early and
enthusiastic user of the Morse system which improved the efficiency and safety of railroad
operations. The Associated Press was originally an alliance of Morse telegraph services
and operators dedicated to news dispatches. Industry found the telegraph indispensible for
the transmission of business related communication including information on stocks and
commodities. The American civil war was the one of the first demonstrations of the
military value of the telegraph in the control of troop deployment and intelligence. Even
the flow of oil through pipelines was controlled by Morse telegraph.
In the 1920s automated teleprinter technology had become reliable enough to
begin to replace the Morse operator. Manual landline telegraphy was slowly phased out
until the 1960s when Western Union and the railroads discontinued use of their last
Morse circuits. Morse continued to be used in Canada until the mid 1970s, and railroads
in Mexico were still using the wire at least until 1990.
A pioneer in the field of telecommunications, Alexander Graham Bell was born in
1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to the United States, settling in Boston, before
beginning his career as an inventor. Throughout his life, Bell had been interested in the
education of deaf people. This interest lead him to invent the microphone and, in 1876, his
“electrical speech machine,” which we now call a telephone. News of his invention quickly
spread throughout the country, even throughout Europe. By 1878, Bell had set up the first
telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut. By 1884, long distance connections were
made between Boston, Massachusetts and New York City.
Telephones are actually very simple devices. A diaphram or reed is vibrated from
the voice of the caller. The vibrations are send through a wire as a fluctuating electrical
current. This current is connected to a diaphram or reed on the other end, that vibrates in
step with the callers voice. Alexander Bell lodged his key patent om March 10th 1876,
only several hours before Elisha Gray lodged a similar one. A 10 year legal battle ensued,
and bell eventuly won, and founded the famous Bell Telephone Company, which made
him a very wealthy man.
By January, 1878, the first telephone extange, with only 21 custimers, opened in
New Haven Connecticut. Then in 1884 boston was linked up with new york, a distance of
about 300 miles, it cost about $75,000. By 19000, there were over a million telephones in
the U.S. alone. And now about 99% of of american households have a telephone.
The impact of the telephone has been described as both positive and negative. On
the negative side, wars are waged more easily, the scope of human conflict has been
extended along telephone lines, the multi-generational household has been broken-up as
living alone is no longer an experiment in isolation, and the time-space continuum seems
to be compressed faster than previously thought possible (Brooks, 1976). On the other
hand, the invention of the telephone has resulted in the rapid and diffuse dissemination of
technical and scientific information, saved lives through links to emergency services, made
possible the modern city through telephonic connections, increased the speed and ease
with which information changes place, and accelerated the rate of scientific and
technological change and growth in industry (Brooks, 1976).
Since the invention of the printing press, communication over distances has
become much more feasable. The invention of the the telephone, computer, and the
internet has made such an impact on our society. Now we are able to view tremendous
multitudes of information from our own living room. The history of modern
communication is still ongoing, and will continue to progress far into the future.