From the earliest letters sent via horse and rider, through to a pair of glasses that can access the breadth of human knowledge, explore the evolution of communication and the technology that has connected us all.
Egyptian Pharaohs were among the first known users of a postal system (from around 2400 BC). They sent letters baked in thin clay envelopes to hide their contents from unwanted eyes. From here the postal system developed and letters were moved further and faster with the aid of animals, such as pigeons, dogs and horses.
The horse served as the car of its day long before combustion engines were even imaginable, and amongst other things, were used as a primary mail transport method for many years.
Using a horse and rider, small consignments of mail could be quickly transported, ideal for war-time communications or urgent messages. When the cart entered into the equation, now you can transport large volumes of mail over relatively long distances.
Morse code is a set of dots and dashes assigned to each letter of the alphabet. Like the telegram, morse code was developed as a method of sending messages over long distance, initially using cables, but requiring someone to receive and translate the message.
. . . - - - . . . is morse code for SOS, or Save Our Souls, and is accepted as the worldwide distress signal ("help I'm in a spot of bother!").
The invention of electricity opened up a new world of communication opportunities because of the ability to send messages over long distances much faster than ever before. The invention of the electrical telegraph removed the need for messages to be physically carried (by human or animal) and therefore started a social and economical revolution; the pace of life changed and we've not looked back since!
The telephone emerged from the invention of the electric telegraph and morse code. Alexander Graham Bell patented the device in April 1875 and it developed to become the first communication device in history that allowed people to talk in real time over long distances, another revolution in social and economic aspects of human culture.
Based on Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's pioneering work in electromagnetism, the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio transmission in 1901. This form of transmission proved a highly effective way of broadcasting information over great distances without the reliance on wires - a hugely liberating advancement, instrumental to making us all more mobile!
For many, Chelmsford is considered the spiritual home of radio, where Marconi opened the world's first factory producing his revolutionary radios in 1898.
The fax machine originated around the same time as the invention of the electric telegraph, yet in recent history, the fax machine became the centre of office technology. It is used to send printed documents over large distances via the telephone line - in many ways becoming the early prototype for email. Even though the fax machine is largely redundant, it still has a place in many offices, even today.
Video technology was initiated in the second half of the 1920s, spurred notably by John Logie Baird and first put to use for TV broadcasting - far in advance of its use for video calling.
The development of video conferencing systems gathered pace from 1980 onwards, with further advancements making it a practical technology for regular use. Since video calling has extended to smartphones, PCs and tablets it can be utilised anywhere there is an internet connection!
Dial-up internet allowed you to connect to the World Wide Web through a normal telephone line. Using a PC and modem connected to the telephone line, you connected by dialling a specific number allocated by your internet service provider (ISP).
Most memorable for its characteristic dialling tones and slow connection speeds (relative to ADSL and Fibre lines of today) dial-up offered the first real glimpse of a world which exists virtually, rather than physically.
The mobile phone was first dreamt up as early as 1947, but back then the word "mobile" seemed to mean something different to what we consider mobile today. Due to size and weight restrictions, early mobile phones were limited to cars and other vehicles.
Each new generation of mobile phone technology has increased its capabilities allowing companies to provide bigger and better services, whilst shrinking the handset size - becoming even more mobile!
Broadband was introduced to replace dial-up, improving the bandwidth on offer - meaning it worked much faster! The ability to transfer far greater amounts of data at quicker speeds has meant that music, TV, films and more are only ever a click away.
Early ADSL connections were limited by the copper infrastructure, but with the move towards fibre optics, data can now travel at the speed of light - another huge step up in download speeds.
Social media has caused a revolution with increasing numbers using it to communicate. Each platform has a purpose built application (App) with the likes of Facebook and Twitter being popular. Each application allows a user to interact in its own way. Users can do many things like create, share and exchange content, opinions and interests or read news articles.
Ericcson were the first to create a 'smart phone' in the late 90s, however, smart phones as we know them didn't start to appear until the mid-00s with BlackBerry managing to gain mass appeal with its device's ability to integrate phone, email and web services.
The introduction of the touch screen was a huge leap for smart phones, with the Apple iPhone the first device to use a finger instead of a stylus.
Recent developments have seen a rise in wearable technology.
There are many new products in the pipeline or at the beta stage, some of which seem more science fiction than real; Apple's iWatch and Google's Glass are a couple of examples on the horizon, enabling a further integration of the internet and computing power to our everyday lives.
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's must-have gadget and will likely change the way we do things, but what tech has changed your life the most? The telex machine, Nokia 3310, your dial-up connection or perhaps a humble postage stamp?
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