Communication has come a long way, due extensively to technological advancements. At the same time it could be said that a very large part of the advancements in technology are directly due to increased demand for communication. Today if you’re headed to St Petersburg, Russia you can text message back and forth with a pal in a market about whether pork or beef is best for dinner while you’re still hours away by plane. Less than 200 years ago you’d be lucky to have any sort of message beat you to your destination; answering services and voicemail was unthinkable. In fact wars often continued to be fought after a side had already given up! Let’s look at some of the critical points along the way of communication coming of age.
Perhaps the earliest of automated long distance communication was telegraphs. Using Morse code, for the first time it was likely your message would arrive first! Also compared to hiring someone to deliver a letter communication had for the first time become really affordable.
Probably the next real advancement was international communication. Today there are IP telephony services, like virtual pbxsystems, that contact satellites and essentially use the Internet to create instant bidirectional communications, but a century ago this was not possible. Even at the time it was an ambitious idea to try to communicate internationally at all. As strange as it may seem, at a time where transporting water was still a concern and mostly used gravity, it was decided to simply drop wires across the ocean. The Atlantic cable was laid not so different from transportation tubes like the Hudson Tubes, now called the Path Train.
The next innovation was Email. As new as Email seems it was available on the earliest networks. As these networks were expanded and attached to the Internet, Email became much more viable. Keep in mind, initially email was regarded poorly. Much as text messaging is regarded as something teens do a lot that wastes time, Email was regarded as a waste of system resources. Yes, today it is a critical part of worldwide communications and a staple of international business!
Cellular communication is a topic in its own right, but probably the next real innovation in communications. Originally any sort of mobile phone device that only filled the trunk was the luxury of the richest of the rich. Today, some of the poorest nations actually have more cell phone users than their first world counterparts; due to poorly implemented and aging, unreliable telephone lines. Oddly enough even as Internet based telephones are becoming popular, wireless cell phone based networking is competing against wire networks.
The improvements in communication are both obvious and not so obvious. Being able to communicate across long distances in real time revolutionized communication and business. Less obvious, however, is the ability to transfer money in real time, to verify who is on the other end, and also in real-time see whom one is speaking with even though they may have never personally met. Even romance has been changed as folks who literally would have spent lifetimes to even come into contact with one another meet and fall in love due to instant worldwide communication possibilities. Technology has revolutionized communication, and because of the need of communication technology has been revolutionary.