As long as people have worked the Earth, there has always been the necessity for communication. Be that verbal or non-verbal, it has always been essential for people to understand what other people are saying and doing. Here we will look at how communication has evolved from ancient Egypt up to the present day. Of course we can’t look at every single step, we will simply look at what could be argued to be the biggest steps.
Although the ancient Egyptians probably can’t be credited with inventing written script, their hieroglyphs are without question the most well-known of the earliest forms of written communication. Hieroglyphs are thought to date as far back as around 3200BC and were first properly deciphered upon discovery of the famous Rosetta Stone.
People as messengers
Of course, as long as people have been able to communicate, messages have always been passed around. Before electronic communication was widespread, it was mainly up to men on horseback to pass messages from one place to another. For example passing on new laws from the king of England in the middle ages to simply spreading news of great events, this was all done via word-of-mouth.
The Gutenberg press
The Gutenberg press, which was invented in 1455, was the first device to allow books and other materials to be printed on a large scale and it is widely regarded as the home of the printed word. Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press allowed for a printing revolution to spread across Europe and by 1650 in the German town of Leipzig, the very first newspaper was published for public circulation.
Morse code and radio transmissions
In 1835, American Samuel Morse invented a way of sending communications via electromagnetic pulses via wires. It was the first real electronic signal that could be sent between two points using a series of long and short pulses (or dots and dashes as we know them) that could be easily decoded at the other end of the telegraph. Radio communication was to come next and it was another American Nikola Tesla who set down the fundamentals for radio communication in 1893 and it is still something that is widely used nowadays
A Scotsman by the name of Alexander Graham Bell is the man credited with the invention of the telephone (although nowadays they are a lot different from how they were in 1875). The first telephone communication was transmitted in March of the following year.
The industrial age led to another notable Scotsman by the name of John Logie Baird to come up with yet another device which was to revolutionise communications and information flow in the world in the most significant way since the advent of the printing press. The television was invented in 1925 and the first broadcasts in the UK were in 1927 and in the USA in 1930.
The World Wide Web
Since the invention of the television, and that of personal computers, the next main invention (one that arguably nobody could live without nowadays) was that of the World Wide Web that was invented by Brit Tim Berners Lee in Switzerland as a way of communicating. The World Wide Web was the beginning of the Internet age and from these humble beginnings in Switzerland, the Internet is now probably the main way that people communicate with one another in the modern world.
Although technically invented before the World Wide Web, mobile telephones did not really take off until the late 90s as products that were used by the masses to communicate with each other. The first mobile phone network was launched in Japan in the late 70s and by the mid 80s it was in cars that mobile communications first started to take off. By the late 90s, more and more people were acquiring new phones and today it is virtually unheard of for anyone not to have one. Phone calls, text messages and other forms of communication such as Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised the way we communicate.
What for the future?
It’s always difficult to predict how communication will change in the future. We know already that mobile internet signals can get stronger, faster and more efficient, but is using the Internet as far as it goes. In 200 years time, will we have things connected to our brains where we can communicate just by thinking something? I know this sounds like something out of a horror movie, but imagine what today’s communications would look like to someone from 200 years ago.
This is a guest post by Emily Arthur, a technology and communications writer from the UK. She writes for a number of websites, including messenger service providers, technology blogs, smartphone retailers and review sites.