The History of Electronic Communications

The History of Electronic Communications
Page content

History Of Electronic Communications

Electronic communications is any communication based on electricity. The basis for this wasn’t properly harnessed until both direct current and alternating current electricity were mastered and popularized in the late 19th century. Thomas Edison warned that direct current electricity was safer, and thus should form the basis of a national power company. Unfortunately, alternating current electricity had better transmission capabilities and although it is more dangerous, became the basis for modern electrical power. These basic truths would ultimately form the foundation for modern electronic communication. All communications formed with alternating electrical current will be investigated.

What we know of as electronic communications originated with the telegraph. The telegraph was a simple electrical circuit that transmitted electrical impulses across country via wire. It had two signals, a dot and a dash. This formed a code that could be interpreted as words. This code was Morse code. Over time, the code would be translated into all languages and became state-of-the-art technology. It permitted coast to coast data transmissions and formed the basis for facsimile transmission as well.

The next major communications invention was the telephone. The “plain old telephone” has changed very little since it was invented in the early 19th century. It has just become more popular and accepted since its invention. It was patented by Alexander Gram Bell in 1876 but more than likely invented by Innocenzo Manzetti and was originally called the “speaking telegraph”. The history indicates that the telephone as actually being demonstrated in England some nine years before Alexander Bell filed his patent in America. The idea that the phone was invented in America is a misconception. Regardless of its origins, there was nothing as convenient as the phone until wireless radio transmissions became fashionable quite a while later.

The idea of sending messages via radio waves didn’t become popular until Faraday proved that such transmissions were possible and done easily and cheaply. Wireless transmissions evolved from simple messages with ranges of only a few miles to the cellular phones we use today. Wireless transmissions eventually have become the premier communications medium. Wired transmissions are looked at as backwards and troublesome in comparison. This viewpoint comes from the fact that wires are prone to trouble. Cables break, get dug up and become disconnected from equipment. Virtually every wired industry in the world today wishes to become wireless. There are many business benefits to dropping the cable. The most important of which is to increase reliability. Today customers see wires as a weakness and low standard of technology. Modern communications, with the way cell phones work, have grown by leaps in bounds in terms of size, scale and the ability to reach others. Now a person with just a satellite phone can call someone on the other side of the planet without an operator and complex operation. This was unthinkable just 50 years ago.

The history of communications is moving faster and faster. Our communications are becoming more complex and our handsets are become more powerful. Who knows what the future holds?

References and Image Credit