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Evolution of Communication: 1800s and 1900s

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Category - General
by Ann Holtzapple on September 11th, 2017

Evolution of Communication is our latest ebook that explores the development of human communication methods from prehistoric times until today. This is the second of a three-part blog series that highlights the in-depth information available in that publication.

Can you imagine not being able to reach anyone, no matter their location, at a moment’s notice? Until just a few centuries ago, communications were limited by distance. Once we entered the 19th century, our communications methods advanced with innovations that made communications simpler and able to happen over longer distances than previously possible (remember the methods we talked about in our previous post?.

The 1800s: A Major Leap
During the 19th century, signal lamps, newspapers, and the electric telegraph made it possible to transmit information farther and to more people at once than ever before. First known to be available around 1867, signal lamps were used to transmit Morse code between towns, between ships at sea, and from land to sea.

By the late 1800s, many small town and cities published their own newspaper which allowed for passing along information to very large groups of people at a time. People could learn about events in towns and cities from all over by subscribing to papers from other places. The electric telegraph led to many additional telegraph innovations including the trans-Atlantic telegraph, the acoustic phonograph, and wireless telegraphy.

The telegraph played a major role in the development of communication; in 1858, the completion of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable marked a new era in communication between Europe and the United States. Of course, one of the biggest technological breakthroughs of all time may be the telephone, which became a prime method of communication between individuals starting 1876. No discussion of communication would be complete without mention of the radio, which became publicly available in the late 1800s.

The 1900s: Technology Soars
America was already going mobile by the early 20th century. Believe it or not, the first experimental videophone was available around 1936, and telephone service for automobiles was available shortly after that, though availability was limited.

Television changed the landscape of communication forever when it was first introduced in 1927. A few decades later, many families would have their own television sets, making it possible for the latest news and information to come directly into an individual’s home almost as soon as it happened. Though many forms of communication have come and gone, television remains one of the most widely used inventions. People all around the world still depend on TV for up-to-date information, as well as entertainment.

Do these inventions sound more familiar? Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief at the familiarity of these more common methods of communication. They are here and we are no longer relying on a pigeon to transmit our messages (probably). While many of these came out less than a century ago, they have already been improved quite a lot in the years following their inventions.

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