All That Is Past Is Prelude...A Brief History of Communications.
In our October, 1964 "first issue" we commented on "communications and the Tempo of History" saying: "Consider the communications progress made in your lifetime! You are living during a communications revolution which has increased the tempo of history to an astonishing degree and which is bringing us closer and closer to the ultimate of instant communication.
"For thousands of years there was virtually no progress in the art of communication. With a few rudimentary yet notable exceptions (jungle drum networks, Greek torch telegraphs, Indian smoke signals and French semaphore towers), speed of communication was linked to speed of transportation . . . and, century after century, there was no real porgress. A message could travel as fast as a man could run or a horse could gallop--and that was it. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, Paul Revere . . . all communicated at the same speed.
"Thru thousands of years man's progress in communications was well nigh imperceptible. In the past one hundred years it has been astronomical. And today the revolution moves along at an ever-increasing tempo . . . with progress toward instant communication that is almost unbelievable.
"The communications revolution really started on May 24, 1844 when Samuel Morse demonstrated his electric telegraph between baltimore and Washington . . . sending the historic message, "jWhat hath God wrought?" Communication was at last freed from the limitation of land transportation speed. From the 10 miles an hour of the runner and the 30 miles an hour of a fast horseman, communication speed suddenly jumped to the speed at which electrical impulses can travel over a wire . . . close to 150,000 miles per second! Thirty years later came the telephone and then, in an ever quickening tempo, came such "milestone" developments as: wireless telegraphy (1902), vacuum tubes (1906), teletype (1915), radio telephone (1917), radio boardcasting (1920), photoelectric cell (1924), television (1926), color television cell (1924), television (1926), color television (1929), coaxial cable (1936), radar (1940), microwave (1946), mobile telephone (1947), transistor (1948), facsimile (1957), data-phone (1958), satellites (1960), laser (recent years), and commercial picture-phone (964). And these major break-throughs are only a part of the picture. To get it all you must think of the refinements within each area of communication (like direct dialing and electronic switching, like FM and VHF) to see the full scope and sense the real pace of our progress.
"That the words communication and community come from the same root is obvious. Our technological achievements of the past century in communications have made the world a single "community" . . . and, in so doing, have stepped up the tempo of history. Nebuchadnezzar and Napoleon lived more than 2000 years . . . but they lived in essentially the same kind of world. The communications revolution has put us in a world that is literally changing from generation to generation!"
Here, illustrated with drawing's done by CN's Ben Wood, are some of the highlights of communications development from the dawn of human history until September, 1964 . . . when the first issue of Communications News Rolled off the press! In the Beginning
Egyptian hieroglyphics (symbols expressing complete ideas or concepts) represented mans first attempts to communicate. In about 1500 BC, the Seirites (a Semetic people dwelling in the Sinai peninsula) took an important first step to the "Information Age" by developing an alphabet . . . written symbols symbols or letters strung together from right to left to form "words" for both written and oral communication. Communications over distances, limited until about the time of Christ to the speed at which a man could run or his horse could gallop, began to pique manhs inventiveness. Roman soldiers experimented with a "torch telegraph" with the position of the torches on the wall serving as a code, enabling messages to be sent over considerable distance. Another early rudimentary "long distance" communications system was developed in the fourth century AD deep in the jungles of Africa, where natives were communicating with other tribes within earshot by means of drums, beating out their coded messages on the tiggtly-stretched animal skins. A few centuries later American Indians developed their own form of long distance communications . . . smoke signals. Putting damp, green leaves on a hot fire to develop much smoke, the Indian used a blanket passed over the fire to cause the smoke to rise in "puffs" . . . the "dots" of smoke carrying meaningful messages to lookouts of nearby tribes. But, through more than five-milleniums, the distance barrier for communications had barely been dental. The Renaissance
With the dawning of the Renaissance and the coming of the Industrial Revolution, man attempted to break the distance barrier with various mechanical means. In 1684, for example, Dr. Robert Hooke, English philosopher, read a paper before the Royal Society describing his optica telegraph in which, by an arrangement of pulleys and ropes, signs for each letter of the alphabet could be displayed between tall poles. A few years later in Paris, France, Claude Chappe opened his chain of "telegraph stations" between Paris and Lille, a distance of 230 kilometers, using a semaphore system in this 1794 innovation. Many of the "basics" of communications were developed during these renaissance years. Johan Guttenburg, for example, had already invented moveable type, the key to volume printing. And, in 1801 in France, the basic idea of using instructions punched into paper tape had been implemented by Joseph Jacquard in a new loom in which holes punched in cards and paper tape controlled the patterns woven by the loom. As the nineteenth century opened, the first glimmerings of "electronics" surfaced. In 1809 at the Munich Adademy of Science, S. T. Van Soemmerring demonstrated his electrochemical telegraph complete with tank, keys and pile. One of the men who witnessed the demonstration was Russia's Baron Schilling, who was working on his own electromagnetic telegraph. In London in 1831, Michael Faraday, winding 220 feet of copper wire around a pasteboard tube, attaching the ends to a current meter and thrusting a bar magnet into the hollow core of the tube, demonstrated that electric current could be generated by magnetic induction. Our of Faraday's persistent experiments, which had started back in 1822, a new science of "electricity" was born. Telegraph Times
Just four years later, in 1835, Samuel Morse and his partner Alfred Vail completed a working model of his telegraph (from the Greek: "to write at a distance"). In 1837 Morse filed for a patent. And on May 24, 1844 Morse . . . using his now-famous code . . . demonstrated his telegraph with a wire stretched from Washington to Baltimore, tapping out the historic message, "What hath God wrought?" The development of the telegraph in the United States did not proceed as smoothy as it did in Europe, where the telegraph services were in the hands of the national governments. The Washington-Baltimore line was sold to private interests by Congress in 1847, and not until the many other private companies which had sprung up were consolidated in 1865 by Hiram Sibley as the Western Union Telegraph Company was there any real and rapid expansion. In 1861, while a politically divided nation was embroiled in civil war, Western Union, in an epic achievement of American enterprise, unified the nation geographically with the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line. "Experts" had said that it would take 10 years to build the 2000-mile wire line from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Two Western Union teams, building from both east and west, did the job in three months and 20 days! The famed Pony Express, which took 10 days to carry messages from St. joe to California, was suddenly obsolete! By 1866 the Western Union owned 2,250 offices and their original wires had expanded from 660 miles to 74,570 miles! And on July 27, 1866, the Atlantic Cable laid by the "Great Eastern" came in at Heart's Content Bay in Newfoundland. By August, America was linked to Europe by regular telegraph service! Hold the Phone
Alexander Graham Bell's dream of sending voice messages over wires became a reality in 1876. On March tenth, in a third floor laboratory at 5 Exeter Place in Boston, Thomas Watson hears the first complete sentence transmitted by variable resistance transmitter as Alexander Graham Bell's "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!" comes clearly over the wire. Bell's first patent on the "telephone" was issued that month, just four days after his 29th birthday. Three months later, in June, Bell exhibited both his magnetic and his variable resistance telephones at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition where one of the judges, Emporer Dom Pedro of Brazil, listened to one of the receivers and exclaimed, "My word!= It talks." In 1877 the first Bell stock was issued . . . a total of 5,000 shares to seven original stockholders. Alexander Graham Bell himself took only 10. His bride of 20 days, Mabel Bell, was assigned 1,497. Others included: Garhiner G. Hubbard, 1,387: Gertrude Hubbard, 100; Thomas Sanders, 1,497; Thomas A. Watson, 499; and Charles Eustis Hubbard, 10. The terms of the agreement between Sanders, Hubbard and Bell were simple and straightforward. Sanders and Hubbard were each to furnish half the money for Bell to continue his experimentation and perfection of his ideas about the multiple telegraph. Bell was to do the work. bell also had the responsibility to apply for and maintain patents on his inventions . . . and the patents were the first tangible assets of the "Bell Patent Association" Forerunner of the Bell System. Another inventive giant of the late nineteenth century was transmitter which made the telephone practical. Also the inventor of the stock ticker and an improved his clyindrical phonograph "sound machine". The first known telephone "exchange" was opened on January 28, 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut. The first female operator . . . Miss Emma Nutt . . . was hired September 1, 1878. In 1882 in cincinnati, the women switchboard operators shown below are working at a "beehive" board. A foretaste of "data communications" came in 1890 when, in Buffalo, Herman Hollerith displayed his new "census machine" which takes cards with 240 separate designated areas and with electromechanical sensing devices automatically "reading" where the holes are punched in each card an tabulating the information at a rapid rate. "Long distance" took on new meaning late in the nineteenth century. In 1892 in New York city at AT&T's main office at 18 Courtland Street, Aleander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was on hand to help open the first New York-Chicago long distance telephone line, a 950-mile, heavy gauge copper overhead wire line. At about the same time, across the Atlantic England officials of the London General Post Office were dedicating the Anglo-French telephone line with a London-to-Paris call. Later that same year a milestone" event occurred in La Porte, Indians where Almon Brown Strowger demonstrated the world's first "dial" telephone and a 56 telephone automatic telephone system. By 1900 there were 855,900 telephones in the Bell system . . . and there were over 700,000 telephones being operated by over 5,000 independent telephone companies that had sprung up. The total number of indendent telephone companies rose to a high of 12,300 in 1910. In 1913 AT&T Vice President Nathan Kingsbury sent a letter (now referred to as the "Kingsbury Commitment") to the Attorney General of the "Kingsbury Commitment") to the Attorney General of the United States committing AT&T to disposing of its telegraph stock, to interconnection of Independent telephone companies to Bell System long distance lines, and, most importantly, not to purchase any more Independent telcos. Look Ma, No Wires
While Alexander Graham Bell, and his associates were filling America with telephones during the last years of the 19th century, others were already beginnging to fill the air with sound. Tufts Professor, Amos Dolbears, Dr. Mahlon Loomis, and a young Italian named Gugliemo Marconi (shown here conducting experiments in his father's garden) demonstrated that electronical waves could be projected through the air. In 1898, a wireless telegraph instrument was tested high atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris, sending messages to points somes four kilometers away. At Tufts College, in 1888, an American professor named Amos Dolbears had sent the first radio waves thru the air. To get distance he attached a wire to a gilt kite and sent it aloft as his "antenna". and later, using an old receiver from a Bell telephone and a homemade microphone, Dolbears was able to transmit understandable speech over a distance of one half mile. Dr. Mahlon Loomis was probably the holder of the first United States patent for a wireless system, which he operated between peaks of the Blue Ridge mountains. And, in 1901, at Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Guglielmo Marconi directed the efforts of men raising a kite aerial to receive the first wireless signal across the Atlantic from Cornwall, England. The next day in St. Johns, Newfoundland Guglielmo Marconi jumped with joy as his wireless picked up the signal for the letter "S" being transmitted from a wireless station he had built in England . . . proving conclusively that world-wide radio reception was not rendered impossible by the curvature of the earth. Suddenly we had "code through the air" and inventors were working on developments which would lead to "sound through the air". In 1904 in England John Fleming displayed the first thermionic electron tubes called "Fleming valves" which he had designed and patented for radio use . . . to detect radio signals. This vacuum diode detection tube, known as the Fleming oscillation valve, could undergo mechanical shocks and static surges without "joining out". Early in the 1900's Reginal Fessenden, an American physicist, demonstrated the first radio voice transmission and here, in 1904, broadcasts music over radio . . . using both a phonograph and his own violin, for what he thought to be the world's first "rado broadcast of music. Fessenden proposed a heresy . . . that the wave sent out not be a series of bursts made by interrupting the wave (as in the Marconi system) but, rather, a continuous wave on which the voice was superimposed as variations or modulations. This Fessenden principle was the foundation of radio. And the real birth of broadcasting came in 1906 when Fessenden, backed by General Electric, put together a transmitting station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Also in 1906 German developers examine the first television set built in Germany using the cathode ray tube originally invented by German Physicist Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. In 1906 Lee de Forest shown here in his laboratory invented the triode, a key development in radio broadcasting. In 1910 he became the first person to broadcast quality music. "What finer task," said de Forest, "than to transfer the sound of a voice of song to one thousand miles away." Soon after getting his Ph.D. at yale in 1899, de Forest began experimenting with a triode...a vacuum tube with three functional elements or electrodes (the filament the grid and the plate). Previous tubes were diodes, having only filament and plate. The grid detector, which de Forest inserted between the filament and the plate, proved to be very effective and earned for de Forest the title of "Father of Radio." The Radio Corporation of America was incorporated on October 17, 1919. Radio and TV
On January 25, 1915 at the Nevada-Utah state line an American Flag flies from the final pole set for the first transcontinental telephone line between San Francisco and New York, Boston and Washington. First words spoken over the line were for Alexander Graham Bell in New York to his celebrated former assistant Tom Watson in San Francisco. Said Bell, repeating the historic first sentence ever uttered over telephone wire. "Mr. Watson . . . come here . . . I want you." Bell (shown below) was 67 years old as he took part in the ceremonies, sitting with telephone company officers and New York City officials. Above Bell is a photograph of Theodore VAil who as AT&T president took part in the ceremony by means of a long distance call from Georgia. Following World War I, however, the telephone began to be taken for granted in America and first radio and then television captured the fancy of the American people. In 1920 in England Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior sang at the Chelmsford works of the Marconi Company in an exciting radio broadcast. That same year what some claim to be the "world's first radio station" was a clutter of equipment in a San Jose, California store building. The station's founder, Charles David Herrold, stands in the doorway. The Victrola was used to play popular records borrowed from a San Jose music store. On November 2, 1920 in the Pittsburgh "studio" of Radio Station KDKA a crew of four men broadcasts returns of the Harding-Cox election . . . and KDKA listeners were the first people in the nation to learn that Senator Harding had won a landslide victory. And on May 30, 1922 in Washington, President Warren G. Harding, in the first radio broadcast by a United States president, speaks at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The microphone was placed in a white box to blend in with the marble columns. The United States navy provided the broadcasting set-up. On July 2, 1921 the first sports broadcast took place at Boyle's Thirty Acres in Jersey City, New Jersey, giving great impetus to radio broadcasting with the blow-by blow account of Jack Dempsey's hewavyweight title bout with George Carpentier. In 1921 most telephone calls are still being manually switched by trained Bell System operators . . . nearly stylish in that day. Even then, as telephones flourished and radio was exciting the imaginations of Americans, in 1923 in a Westinghouse laboratory in Pittsburgh, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin (left), a Russian-born American physicist and electronics engineer, was explaining how his iconoscope worked. This new electronic tube converted light rays into electric signals which could then be changed into radio waves and broadcast. By 1939, David Sarnoff, president of the Radio Corporation of America, was able to stand before RCA Television cameras at the dedication of RCA's pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1939. This marked the first time in history that a new event has been covered by television. In his dedication speech entitled "The Birth of An Industry," General Sarnoff predicted that television one day would become an important entertainment and information medium! By 1941 Farnsworth, General Electric, du Mont, Philco and Zenit were all ready to compete with RCA in building television sets. At war's end, in 1945, there were nine commercial television stations in the air . . . and 7,500 sets in use in New York City, Schenectady and Chicago. By 1955 there were 411 commercial TV stations and 11 non-commercial TV stations on the air. When CN came on the scene in 1964 there were 529 VHF and 120 UHF television stations on the air. Over 8,000,000 television sets were sold that year . . . all black and white! The Information Age
The seeds of the "Information Age" were sown in discussions like this historic 1923 exchange of communication ideas taking place on the steps of a General Electric Company laboratory between Gugliehno Marconi (right) inventor of wireless telegraphy, and Chalres Steinmetz, the electrical wizard who produced more than 200 patents during his 30 years with General Electric. But it was following World War II that the three key developments took place. First, in 1946 the computer came to center stage of the paenat of communications progress. At the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Engineering, dr. J. Presper Eckert, stands before the control panel of EMIAC, the world's first electronic digital computer. Eckert, Dr. John Mauchly, and their associates soldered some 500,000 connections to link over 18,000 vacuum tubes for a 30-ton machine which occupied 15,000 square feet of space. Second, just a year later, in 1947, at Bell Labs, John Bardeen, William Schockley and Walter Brattain check the apparatus which they used to discover the transistor. And, third, just before Communications News printed its first issue, the communications satellite added a new dimension to communications. Shown here at Bell Labs in 1962 Engineer Charles Haas inspects the $80 million Telstar, designed, built and paid for by the Bell system, which made a significant contribution towards satellite communications technollgy. And on august 13, 1962 at the White House in Washington President John Kennedy signed the Communications Satellite Act of 1962. The Act, passed by Congress four days earlier, provided for the establishment of Comsat. Computers, transistors, and satellites . . . all were at center stage as Communications News began, in 1964 to chronicle the communications events of two dynamic decades!
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|Date:||Sep 1, 1984|
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