The History of Communications – the past 150 years
The Pew Internet Project has put together a retrospective of the past 150 years of communications.
You can find a link to the full paper (24 pages) at the end of this posting.
In addition to the historical facts, this paper includes some interesting predictions made in the historical context in which these communications inventions emerged.
Here are a few predictions about radio from the time:
Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, a Scottish mathematician and physicist, is quoted as saying in 1897:
Radio has no future.
According to a report in Dunlap’s Radio and Television Almanac, Sir John Wolfe-Barry remarked at a meeting of stockholders of the Western Telegraph Company in 1907:
…As far as I can judge, I do not look upon any system of wireless telegraphy as a serious competitor with our cables. Some years ago I said the same thing and nothing has since occurred to alter my views.
A June 1920 article in Electrical Experimenter titled “Newsophone to Supplant Newspapers” reported on an idea for a news service delivered via recorded telephone messages and also predicted the:
radio distribution of news by central news agencies in the larger cities to thousands of radio stations in all parts of the world” leading to a time when “anyone can simply listen in on their pocket wireless set.
H.G. Wells wrote in “The Way the World is Going” in 1925:
I have anticipated radio’s complete disappearance…confident that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to listening in, will soon find a better pastime for their leisure.
In 1913 Lee de Forest, inventor of the audion tube, a device that makes radio broadcasting possible, was brought to trial on charges of fraudulently using the U.S. mails to sell the public stock in the Radio Telephone Company. In the court proceedings, the district attorney charged that:
De Forest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public…has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company…
De Forest was acquitted, but the judge advised him
to get a common garden-variety of job and stick to it.
Here is the full paper –
The “Related Resources” at the end of the paper has a huge set of links to additional resources.
Here is a partial list for the history of radio.
The Invention of Radio (About.com)
Radio, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Radio Pioneers, from the Federal Communications Commission site:
Marconi’s biography on the Nobel Prize site – also use a link here to read the speech that introduced his award:
United States Early Radio History, a wonderfully detailed site by Thomas H. White:
Old-Time Radio – about programs from radio’s “golden age”: