Posted: March 18th, 2023

History Of Communication Timeline Term Paper

History Of Communication Timeline

TIMELINE: HISTORY OF COMMUNICATION

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(with special reference to the development of the motorcycle)

35,000 BCE.

First paleolithing “petroglyphs” and written symbols. This is important in the history of communication because it marks the first time humans left a recorded form of communication. Also, these written symbols became the ultimate source of later alphabets.

Wikipedia, “Petroglyph.”

12,600 BCE.

Cave paintings at Lascaux show early representational art. This is important in the history of communication because the caves depict over 2000 figures, including abstract symbols. More recent research suggests these may record astronomical information.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Lascaux.”

3400 BCE.

First surviving Sumerian pictograms demonstrate a primitive form of record keeping. This is important in the history of communication because pictograms, together with ideograms, represent a primitive form of writing, in which a symbol either means what it looks like, or represents a single idea.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Pictogram.”

3300 BCE.

Invention of the wheel will transform transportation and communication both. This is important in the history of communication because the earliest wheeled vehicles in the Chalcolithic period would coincide with the domestication of the horse, making long-distance transportation easier.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wheel.”

3100 BCE.

Earliest surviving Egyptian hieroglyphs represent a form of priestly writing kept alive by a literate elite. This is important in the history of communication because, as a form of writing practiced only by a small minority, the ability to read hieroglyphics became lost at some point in the early Common Era, and would not be re-gained until the nineteenth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia., “Egyptian Hieroglyphs.”

3100 BCE.

Horses first tamed and used for transportation in Asia and Asia minor, most likely on the Eurasian steppes. This is important in the history of communication because now people were communicating regularly with horses, which may not have been intellectually stimulating but could definitely provide a faster way to traverse the Eurasian steppes.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Domestication of the Horse.”

3000 BCE.

First recorded use of an Abacus, a primitive computing device that nonetheless is the conceptual forerunner of the present day personal computer. This is important in the history of communication because it represents a use of symbology to capture abstract mathematical concepts.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Abacus”

3000 BCE.

First use of Sumerian writing system, cuneiform, which marks the first move toward a symbolic alphabet. This is important in the history of communication because it is the foundation of written communication still in use today.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Cuneiform.”

3000-2400 BCE.

Earliest surviving papyrus scrolls testify to human use of written communication. This is important in the history of communication because papyrus is the origin of the modern word and concept of “paper,” still used for communication in parts of the world.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Papyrus.”

2000 BCE.

Earliest recorded postal system in Egypt. This is important in the history of communication because now written communication — which in most forms is likely to stay put, unless (e.g.) it is written on the side of a large moving animal (with the further additional difficulties entailed in having to catch and subdue such an animal long enough to write a legible message) — now has a reliable way for communicating across longer distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Mail.”

2000 BCE.

Earliest recorded invention of the chariot. This is important in the history of communication because people can now use chariots to travel longer distances to communicate. It is unlikely that they were able to communicate while riding on a chariot, except to their horses.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Chariot.”

2000 BCE.

Probable date of Stonehenge, a monument whose meaning is still hotly contested (cf. The popular but fallacious characterization by St. Hubbins and Tufnel, 1984), but most likely represents an attempt to keep track of astronomical phenomena on the part of a pre-literate society. This is important in the history of communication because records of the movements of the stars often represented information transmitted across generations, and thus was seen worthy of a more permanent record.

SOURCE: “Stonehenge” (St. Hubbins, David and Tufnel, Nigel: Polymer, 1984).

1200 BCE-1050 BCE.

Oracle bone script testifies to earliest use of written language in China. This is important in the history of communication because now Chinese people could finally use a written form of communication. It is also the earliest source for later Chinese written language, including ones used today.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Oracle Bone Script.”

295 BCE.

Foundation of the Library of Alexandria, which would become the largest repository of information in the Classical world. This is important in the history of communication because it represented an attempt to concentrate all world knowledge in a single location, a goal presently being attempted with different technological means by Google.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Library of Alexandria”

300 BCE-68 CE.

Dead Sea scrolls composed, mostly written in Hebrew, giving a rare glimpse into the range of religious manuscripts which would have been available at the time of the establishment of Christianity. Representing suppressed and heretical ideas, the survival of these original manuscripts occasioned a revolution in thought about the claims made by Christian scripture almost 2000 years later. This is important in the history of communication because it demonstrates how it is affected by large-scale social trends (the development of religious orthodoxy, and suppression of “forbidden” material).

SOURCE: Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

80.

The Antikythera Device, an early mechincal device for calculating lunar months, is built in Greece. This is important in the history of communication because it represents an early technological device that will eventually develop into something more communicative almost two millennia later.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Antikythera Device.”

Papyrus rolls are gradually replaced by the Codex, the precursor of the modern book. This is important in the history of communication because it permitted a larger amount of information than a scroll, thus increasing the amount communicated by a single artifact. They also represent a shift in book technology, to more resemble the writing tablets then in use by students, rendering the information more “user-friendly.”

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Codex.”

Publication of woodblock-printed edition of the Buddhist scripture The Diamond Sutra in China marks the earliest surviving example of a printed book. It was found in a cave in 1907, and taken by the British. As printed books are still in use today, both as repositories of information and for their more absorbent qualities under exigent circumstances, this is an important milestone in the history of communication.

Source: Wikipedia, “Diamond Sutra.”

1041-8.

Bi Sheng develops the first moveable type in China, sculpted from clay. The concept of moveable type would create a communication revolution when introduced five centuries later to Europe. In China it allowed for the preservation of scientific information, much of which would pre-date similar discoveries in the west. Bi Sheng’s typeface was not used in Europe, as very few Europeans of the early modern period communicated in Chinese.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Bi Sheng.”

The magnetic compass is first used in China. This is important in the history of communication because a magnetic compass is a device which communicates to its user which direction is north. This made travel substantially easier, increasing communication over long distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Compass.”

First public striking-clock is built in Milan at the church of Beata Vergine. This is important in the history of communication because a striking-clock communicates the time of day in an auditory fashion to those who understand how to interpret its musical communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Striking Clock.”

Earliest surviving use of European woodblock printing. This is important in the history of communication because it shows a distinct need for published communication in Europe before the use of moveable type by Gutenberg would cause a revolution in communication technology.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Woodblock Printing.”

1455-6.

Johannes Gutenberg prints the Gutenberg Bible, the first western printed book to utilize movable type. Gutenberg’s use of moveable type suddenly made the composition of numerous printed works easy and affordable: as opposed to a woodblock printing method, which required a single permanent engraved image for each page, moveable type allowed the compositor to use one set of typeface to produce numerous pages, or indeed books, printed in succession.

Source: Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Establishment of the Oxford University Press at Oxford University in England is thought to set up the world’s longest single continuous printer: the O.U.P. is still publishing books to this day.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Oxford University Press.”

French polymath Blaise Pascal develops his first computation machine, working with different designs for the next decade. Pascal’s early contribution to the science of computing resulted in a “computer language” being named after him over three centuries after his tragic early death. This is important in the history of communication because Pascal’s written French is still considered to be a model of elegance in French prose.

SOURCE: Nicholas Hammond (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Pascal goes on to develop the first public transportation system, a horse-drawn public bus with a regular schedule and fare system. This is important in the history of communication because the rise of urbanization that would accompany the birth of capitalism is overall responsible for a certain measure of social organization that would result in overall technological innovations, in addition to the invention of a new social category: the bus driver.

SOURCE: Nicholas Hammond (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz — co-inventor with Sir Isaac Newton of mathematical calculus — works on Pascal’s designs to create a cylindrical gear calculator. This is important in the history of communication for the same reason as Pascal’s computation machine was. (See above.)

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz”

Leibniz first describes binary mathematics, which will become the basis of contemporary computing. This is important in the history of communication because without the ones and zeros of binary mathematics doing something on an infinitesimally small level in my computer right now, I would not be able to type the words that I am currently typing.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz”

The Montgolfier brothers invent the hot-air balloon. This is important in the history of communication because now aerostation and manned flight is possible for the first time, and soon the possibility of balloons being used as a means of military invasion was explored by Napoleon.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Montgolfier Brothers”

The modern bicycle first invented. This is important in the history of communication because the profession of bicycle messenger would follow soon, thus proving the usefulness of bicycles in the context of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Bicycle.”

French army forces in Egypt discover the Rosetta Stone. This is important in the history of communication because the parallel Greek, Egyptian demotic, and Hieroglyphic texts on the Rosetta Stone implied that hieroglyphic inscriptions were linguistic rather than religious in character, and might potentially be deciphered (as they soon would be).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Rosetta Stone.”

Richard Trevithick tests the first full-sized steam locomotive in England. This is important in the history of communication because developments in transportation affect the speed of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Richard Trevithick”

Robert Fulton builds and tests his first experimental steamboat on the River Seine in France. This is important in the history of communication because Fulton’s launch soon afterward of the first commercial steamship lines would help to facilitate commerce across longer distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Steamboat”

1803-4.

The Jacquard Loom is built by Joseph-Marie Jacquard, which employed punch cards to alter the complex patterns woven on industrial cloth looms — it is an early example of a programmable device. This is important in the history of communication because programming represents a way to communicate with complicated machinery.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Jacquard Loom.”

Champollion deciphers the Rosetta stone, marking the modern rediscovery of the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs. For why this is important in the history of communication, see the comment above on the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphs. SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Francois Champollion”

Charles Babbage begins production on a “difference engine,” a machine that would theoretically be able to keep track of complicated mathematical calculations through the use of gears. This is important in the history of communication because Babbage’s researches would establish a solid engineering foundation for the modern computer.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

The first typewriter is invented by W.A. Burt. Burt also invented devices for maritime use, which seems to have been his primary focus. Burt was a Freemason, a state legislator, and a territorial judge. His importance in the history of communication was in demonstrating the possibility of an operable typewriter, thus putting printing directly into the hands of the masses, for better or for worse.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “William Austin Burt”

Yale University alumnus Samuel F.B. Morse invents the “basic sense” of his Morse code for use by telegraph operators. Sterling and Kittross note that five years after this, Morse will apply for a patent on his telegraph invention. They additionally note that three years after the application, Morse will receive his patent. This presumably demonstrates the appalling slowness in communication which made inventing the telegraph an utter necessity.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

Babbage abandons the “difference engine” and begins design for the “analytical engine,” a much more complicated device which would be capable of programming much like a modern personal computer. This is important in the history of communication because it marked Babbage’s recognition of the central fact of modern computing — the capacity for storing information in abstract numerical format.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

Louis Daguerre’s first daguerrotype, the first visual image taken from light that was fixed and did not fade, was made. The precursor to the modern photograph, the Daguerrotype represents a first step forward towards the ready availability of porn in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Louis Daguerre”

Isambard Kingdom Brunel develops the first trans-Atlantic steamship, which soon enters into regular usage. Brunel — who was a Victorian engineer — built lots of other things which stayed put, like bridges. But the steamship enabled trans-Atlantic communication, commerce, and immigration to transform the later history of the nineteenth century and beyond.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Isambard Kingdom Brunel”

First electric telegraph lines in commercial use come into operation in July of 1839. Operating with use on the Great Western Railway, the telegraph makes more or less instantaneous written messaging possible across long distances. In 1839 the distance only ran for thirteen miles, but soon telegraph wires would criss-cross the globe and would contribute to the rise of modern journalism through the ability to offer written reports more or less instantaneously.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Telegraph”

Tauchnitz markets the first commercially mass-produced paperback book. Reprints of great English and American authors produced continentally (where they escaped copyright restrictions) made these Tachnitz books the direct ancestor of the modern mass-market paperback. These are important in the history of communication because it represents a greater spread of literacy and knowledge unto the proletariat.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Tauchnitz”

Ada Lovelace Byron publishes her account of how Babbage’s (unbuilt) difference engine could be programmed mathematically; this gives Lady Byron (herself the daughter of the “mad, bad and dangerous-to-know” poet Lord Byron) the honorific title of “First Computer Programmer,” and her birthday is accordingly celebrated by hackers as their annual holiday, Ada Lovelace Day (March 24).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Ada Lovelace”

George Boole develops the system of mathematical operations known as “Boolean Logic,” later the basis for computer operating systems. This is important because he is thought of in retrospect as one of the founders of computer science, and thus the means whereby most communication occurs in the twenty-first century, although he hardly realized it at the time.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “George Boole”

Charles Babbage develops a method for breaking polyalphabetic ciphers and uses them the next year to break the Vigenere cipher during the Crimean war. Babbage, as an early father of the computer, will not be the last Englishman to make contributions in the fields of both mathematical cryptography and the development of computing technology — see Alan Turing, below. This is important in the history of communication because I am writing this on a computer, and would not be without Babbage’s contribution to its development.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

The first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable is laid. Sterling and Kittross note that this is the third attempt to lay the cable, but the first success. This is important in the history of communication because at this time London is the financial and banking center of the world — as well as the imperial center — but America, just emerging from Civil War, is a great source of raw materials. Communication between these two economic titans will drive technological innovation in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

The attachment of a Perreaux commercial steam-engine to a Michaux commercial iron-framed bicycle results in the first steam-powered velocipede. Patents filed four years later to copyright the idea make the Perreaux-Michaux steam velocipede the official first invention of the motorcycle, although steam-power rendered it a technological dead-end.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

Alexander Graham Bell makes the first transmitted statement over a telephone. Ironically Bell came to the telephone after a career in educating the deaf. Tragically, he could never teach them how to use the telephone properly. Bell’s first sentence spoken over the telephone — “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you” — did not strike contemporaries as the faintly homoerotic come-hither it resembles today. Nonetheless, the telephone was successful in giving people another means of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Alexander Graham Bell”

William S. Burroughs (ancestor of the heroin-addicted novelist) invents the adding machine. His novelist grandson would later write Naked Lunch, a novel in which he describes hallucinating a giant talking anus on one of his illustrious forebear’s adding machines. The invention of Burroughs the elder is important in the history of communication because the computation of numerical data became vastly easier, and could be done by unskilled laborers; how the younger Burroughs’ Naked Lunch fits into the history of communication is anybody’s guess.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “William S. Burroughs (Disambiguation).”

George Eastman first creates paper-based photographic film that can be placed on a roll. He would file for a patent on the Kodak roll-film camera four years later. This is important in the history of communication because Eastwood’s advances in both photographic and cinematic technology helped to bring these to the masses.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “George Eastman”

German engineer Gottlieb Daimler — whose name is still borne by Germany’s largest auto-maker — develops with Wilhelm Maybach the Petroleum Reitwagen (“petroleum riding wagon”), the world’s first internal combustion petroleum-fuelled motorcycle. This made it possible to accomplish communication by means of a motorcycle.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

Herman Hollerith develops a punch card device to tabulate data from the U.S. Census, marking another stage in the development of computing machinery. This is important because Hollerith’s company would merge to form IBM, but also because it demonstrates the willingness of the U.S. Government to fund technology projects which would eventually lead up to the modern information revolution.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Herman Hollerith”

Hildebrand and Wolfmuller begin production of the first commercially mass-produced motorcycle. High purchase price and rapid design improvement by competitors over the next several years is thought to have rendered it a commercial failure.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

The Rev. Hannibal Goodwin invents celluloid photographic film, which will become the technology that permits cinema photography to develop rapidly in the twentieth century. Little does the Reverend Goodwin suspect that in less than a century, over nine thousand pornographic films will be produced per year worldwide.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Hannibal Goodwin.”

Guglielmo Marconi makes a radio transmission across the English Channel. Marconi is not technically the first radio broadcast in history — this was made by Sir Oliver Lodge, who thought that broadcasts could only be made at a distance of a few hundred feet. Marconi proved Lodge wrong by getting his servants to carry the receiver at longer distances on his family’s estate.

SOURCE: W.P. Jolly, Sir Oliver Lodge. (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.)

1900.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin builds the first commercially operating airship. It achieves lighter-than-air status through the use of a hydrogen balloon. It is important for the history of communication for the same reason as other advances in transportation: it speeds up communication. Airships would decline in popularity after one exploded over New Jersey.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Zeppelin”

1901.

Guglielmo Marconi successfully accomplishes the first trans-Atlantic radio broadcast, from Newfoundland in Canada to an outpost on the west coast of Ireland. This is important in the history of communication because radio became the next big wave (pun intended) in communication thanks to Marconi.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Guglielmo Marconi”

1903.

The Wright brothers achieve the first man-made flight with a heavier-than-air vehicle at Kitty Hawk, in the Carolinas. This is important in the history of communication because airplanes can carry all kinds of things, including communications.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wright Brothers”

1905.

Marconi receives the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in the commercial development of the radio. The rubric specified his work in the commercial development of the radio, because nobody could deny that the first radio broadcast had been made by Sir Oliver Lodge in Birmingham. Lodge’s failure to see any commercial potential was Marconi’s gain, and Marconi would later note that if Lodge had not been mistaken in his mathematics, he might have been given greater credit for the invention that would transform communications.

SOURCE: W.P. Jolly, Sir Oliver Lodge. (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.)

1906.

Engineer William S. Harley together with his childhood friend Arthur Davidson, and Davidon’s brothers William and Walter, open their first factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the commercial production of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The factory location on Juneau Avenue remains the corporate headquarters of Harley-Davidson to this day.

SOURCE: Harley-Davidson corporation official website

1906.

The vacuum tube is invented by William de Forest in the U.S.A. Kittross and Sterling note that this is a three-element tube, known as a triode or Audion, which advances upon the 1904 invention in England of the two-element vacuum tube (or valve) by Fleming. This was a major advance in electronics, although the triode would ultimately be rendered obsolete by the transistor.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

1908.

A.A. Campbell-Swinton describes the theoretic possibility of using a cathode ray tube to establish “distant electric vision,” or what will eventually become known as television. He will later oversee a team that succeeds in broadcasting of faint visual images over a short distance.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

1908.

Henry Ford opens his first assembly line for the mass production of automobiles. This is important in the history of communication because one can now communicate by means of a readily available automobile — for example, by spelling out a written message in tire tracks on someone’s front lawn.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Henry Ford.”

1912.

Robert Goddard in the U.S.A. launches the first rocket powered by liquid fuel. This is important in the history of communication because seven years later Goddard’s publication “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” would lay bare the principles of racketeering and revolutionize military technology, and thus communications technology, in the rest of the twentieth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Robert H. Goddard”

1917.

The interception and decoding of the encrypted Zimmermann telegram by the U.S. Government is one of the factors that will draw the U.S. into the First World War. This is important in the history of communication because the increasing importance of military cryptography will work hand in glove with communications technology until eventually this process results in the personal computer and the Internet.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Zimmermann Telegram”

1920.

U.S. motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson overtakes various manufacturers in the Indian subcontinent for the title of world’s largest commercial motorcycle manufacturer.

SOURCE: Harley-Davidson corporation official website.

1927.

General Electric develops the modern flash-bulb for camera photography. This is important because it replaced the heavily flammable thermite flash powder which preceded it in use for photographing unilluminated areas. This was useful in the history of communication for allowing photographers to communicate all kinds of sordid things that would best have been left in the dark.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Flash (Photography)”

1928.

Germany develops the Enigma encoding machine, considered to be “unbreakable,” for use in encrypting sensitive government and military information. The race to break the Enigma code became vital in World War Two, and contributed (as will be noted) to the development of computing machinery and intelligence.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Enigma machine”

1928.

Philo T. Farnsworth first demonstrates for the press his Image Dissector camera tube system for what will become known as “television.” The first regularly scheduled television broadcasts supervised by the U.S. Government would begin that year. This is important in the history of communication insofar as television is important in the history of communication: it is unlikely that we would still be discussing Philo T. Farnsworth today if he had not invented television, and if Philo T. Farnsworth were alive today to see programs like “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” it is unlikely that he would have gone to the effort to invent television.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Philo T. Farnsworth.”

1935.

On 19 May, Colonel T.E. Lawrence — best known by his honorific nickname Lawrence of Arabia — is killed while riding a Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle. The death of Lawrence will lead neurosurgeon Dr. Hugh Cairns to develop the motorcyclist’s crash helmet still in use to this day. This is important in the history of communication because motorcycles can be used to communicate.

SOURCE: Harold Orlans, T.E. Lawrence, Biography of a Broken Hero, London: McFarland, 2002.

1940.

Igor Sikorsky designs what is considered to be the first modern helicopter. This is important in the history of communication because it represents an advance upon the earlier airplane in maneuverability, and is particularly well-suited to the heavily urbanized landscapes of the late twentieth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Igor Sikorsky”

1940.

Konrad Zuse introduces Z1, the first programmable calculating machine to use the binary system; it is a forerunner of the modern computer but was only designed to solve engineering calculations. This is important in the history of communication for pointing the way forward in computing.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Konrad Zuse”

1942.

The German V-2 rocket introduces developments in long-distance ballistics, and is able to strike a target at a distance of 120 miles. This is important in the history of communication because Werner von Braun’s V-2s might easily have won the war for Germany if the Germans under Heisenberg had been faster in developing a nuclear weapon.

SOURCE: Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Viking, 1973.

1946.

At Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert unveil ENIAC, an acronym for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the world’s first general purpose electronic computer, initially funded by the U.S. Army to calculate ballistics information.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “ENIAC”

1947.

A team of scientists at Bell Laboratories invent the transistor. The device will revolutionize radio, computing, and even calculator technology, and is important in the history of communication for speeding up and making more reliable and clear the existing technologies that incorporated it.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Transistor”

1947-1956.

Discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls leads to re-evaluation of the rest of the surviving written evidence related to Christianity. This is important in the history of communication for the same reason that the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone was: it enables us to reinterpret prior communication in a new light.

SOURCE: Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

1949.

RCA debuts the first 45 rpm record. This is important in the history of communication because it will contribute to the rise and eventual ubiquity of musical communication in the post-war period in the form of popular song, at first distributed chiefly on 45 rpm “singles.”

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gramophone Record”

1950.

Alan Turing’s essay on Computing Machinery and Intelligence is published, speculating on the possibility that computers could get so complicated as to mimic human intelligence. Turing led the team which broke the German Enigma code, and in doing so was forced to develop sophisticated computational equipment. In the same year that he published his essay Turing would build the ACE, considered by many to be the first programmable digital computer, at the National Physics Laboratory in Engand. SOURCE: Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” 1950.

1951.

Eckert and Mauchly refine their designs for ENIAC to create UNIVAC, or the Universal Automatic Computer, the first commercially available mainframe computer. By the nineteen seventies UNIVAC would remain as one of only five firms making computing equipment, a situation to be revolutionized by the rise of the “personal computer” in the 1980s.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “UNIVAC”

1952.

Argentinan medical student Ernesto “Che” Guevara, together with his friend Alberto Granada, sets out on a nine-month tour of South America riding a single-cylinder Norton motorcycle. Guevara’s account of this journey, describing the deprivations of poverty from the Andes to the Amazon basin, credits the motorcycle journey with radicalizing his politics — he would later join the Castro Brothers to overthrow the existing Cuban government in favor of a Marxist revolutionary government still in place to this day. Guevara’s written account of the journey would not be published until over forty years afterward, released as The Motorcycle Diaries in 1993.

SOURCE: Ernesto “Che” Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries (1993).

1953.

Hollywood releases the Marlon Brando film The Wild One, loosely based on an incident in 1947 where a party of motorcyclists engaged in what Life magazine would term a riot. The association in the film of motorcycles with delinquency led to protests from American sellers of the Triumph Thunderbird 6T (the motorcycle used in the film).

SOURCE: The Wild One, dir. Laszlo Benedek. With Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin. (1953).

1955.

Universal Copyright Convention establishes copyright protection for authors of printed work extended to fifty years after death. This is important in the history of communication because the interference of capitalism in communication renders piracy a crime, albeit one that is very difficult to combat.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Universal Copyright Convention.”

1956.

AT&T lays the first trans-Atlantic telephone cable. This is important in the history of communication as it indicates another step on the direction toward complete networking that is the trend in the latter half of the twentieth century, continuing on into the present.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “AT&T”

1957.

Sputnik — the first man-made satellite — is placed in geosynchronous orbit after being launched by the Soviet Union. This is important in the history of communications as satellites will eventually be used for that purpose, long after Sputnik prompted the “Space race” of the two Cold War military powers.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Sputnik”

1957.

FORTRAN programming language developed by IBM. This is important as it will make computing accessible to larger numbers, and eventually will represent a revolution as computing alters communications technologies as well.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “FORTRAN”

1959.

The Xerox 914 becomes the first commercially produced office copier. This is important in the history of communication as the typewriter was also, in terms of the democratization in the fact of printing and reproduction of printed materials that it represents.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Xerox”

1961.

The first RAM (Random-Access Memory) chips are produced, changing the face of computing entirely. By permitting data storage with access to all portions of the memory at all times, RAM would offer a “writeable” memory, making programming and data entry more practicable.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Random-Access Memory”

1965.

Moore’s Law first stated by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors that can be placed (affordably) on a single integrated circuit would double in a period of two years, thus allowing growth in computing capacity to proceed more or less exponentially. Moore’s initial prediction was for the next ten years, but Moore’s Law has proved to be accurate to the present day.

SOURCE: Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near. New York: Viking, 2005.

1966.

Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson publishes Hell’s Angels, his book-length account of a stay with Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. Public panic about the association between these motorcycle enthusiasts would reach its zenith three years later at the Altamont motor speedway, when Hell’s Angels members, employed as security for a free concert given by the Rolling Stones, would murder an audience member in plain sight of the band and film cameras.

SOURCE: Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels (1966).; Albert and David Maysles, Gimme Shelter (1970).

1967.

IBM develops the floppy disk for data storage. The disks were made commercially available in 1971, and initially were eight inches long. Their reliance on magnetic storage permitted a greater ease of use in the 1970s and 1980s, although the technology has now largely been rendered obsolete by new forms of data storage.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Floppy Disk”

1969.

The first computers are linked in ARPAnet, a U.S. military program designed to send communication instantly from computer to computer, the direct forerunner of the modern Internet. This initial military and law-enforcement purpose for the Internet has led some (most recently Thomas Pynchon) to react with a sort of paranoia toward the communication opportunities offered by the Internet.

SOURCE: Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009.

1969.

Groundbreaking Hollywood film “Easy Rider” uses the motorcycle as a symbol of American freedom, co-written by novelist Terry Southern, who had also written the screenplay for Kubrick anti-nuke satire “Dr. Strangelove.”

SOURCE: Easy Rider, dir. Dennis Hopper, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.1969.

1969.

The UNIX operating system for computers is first employed at Bell Labs. This is important in the history of communication as the model for most university computing, and thus computing instruction in the latter twentieth century — the rise of the personal computer would bring literacy in the new technology to a much larger number.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Unix”

1969.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, calling themselves the “Lakeside Programming Group,” establish an agreement to de-bug existing programs at the Computer Center Corporation in exchange for time using the mainframe computers. Gates and Allen would eventually transform their partnership into Microsoft.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Microsoft”

1971.

Wakefield Poole directs The Boys in the Sand, the first full-length work of cinematic pornography aimed at a gay male audience. This is important in the history of communication because its popularity was such that it made back its entire budget within the first hour of showings in Manhattan’s Times Square. It also preceded the landmark work of heterosexual pornography Deep Throat by one year, and thus represents the first work of readily accessible full-length cinematic pornography to be produced after the Supreme Court decision striking down obscenity statutes on First Amendment grounds.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wakefield Poole.”

1977.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founds Apple Computers. This is important in the history of communication as Apple continues over thirty years later to remain on the cutting edge of providing new technologies and designs for a large audience, changing the way music delivery and internet usage may be accomplished.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Apple Inc.”

1983.

The first CD player becomes commercially available. This is important in terms of the history of communication in that it marks a revolution, now fully in place, of shifting from magnetic data storage (cassette tapes and floppy disks) to digital data storage (CD, DVD, .jpeg and the like).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Compact Disc”

1988.

AT&T lays the first trans-Atlantic fiber optic cable. This is important in the history of communication as it reflects the change in technology — fiber optics represent an advance in speed and clarity of communication — at the same time as it represents the same old phenomenon of having to lay a cable across the Atlantic, despite the prevalence of satellites. Paradigm shifts move slowly.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “AT&T”

2004.

Google announces the Google Print Project, an attempt to scan all printed material in the world’s libraries to make it available on the Internet. Copyright difficulties have made the eventual outcome of Google’s ambitious plan uncertain. But it represents a digital update of the same principle as the Library of Alexandria (see above).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Google”

SOURCES CITED

Benedek, Laszlo (Director). The Wild One. With Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin. 1953.

Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Guevara, Ernesto “Che.” The Motorcycle Diaries. New York: Ocean Press, 2003.

Guggenheim Museum. The Art of the Motorcycle. New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1998.

Hammond, Nicholas (Editor). The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Jolly, W.P. Sir Oliver Lodge. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.

Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity is Near. New York: Viking, 2005.

Maysles, Albert and David (Directors). Gimme Shelter, 1970.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Orlans, Harold. T.E. Lawrence, Biography of a Broken Hero. London: McFarland, 2002.

Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Viking, 1973.

Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009.

St. Hubbins, David and Tufnel, Nigel. “Stonehenge.” London: Polymer, 1984.

Thompson, Hunter S. Hell’s Angels. New York: Modern Library,1966.

Wikipedia.org


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Posted: March 18th, 2023

History Of Communication Timeline Term Paper

History Of Communication Timeline

TIMELINE: HISTORY OF COMMUNICATION

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(with special reference to the development of the motorcycle)

35,000 BCE.

First paleolithing “petroglyphs” and written symbols. This is important in the history of communication because it marks the first time humans left a recorded form of communication. Also, these written symbols became the ultimate source of later alphabets.

Wikipedia, “Petroglyph.”

12,600 BCE.

Cave paintings at Lascaux show early representational art. This is important in the history of communication because the caves depict over 2000 figures, including abstract symbols. More recent research suggests these may record astronomical information.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Lascaux.”

3400 BCE.

First surviving Sumerian pictograms demonstrate a primitive form of record keeping. This is important in the history of communication because pictograms, together with ideograms, represent a primitive form of writing, in which a symbol either means what it looks like, or represents a single idea.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Pictogram.”

3300 BCE.

Invention of the wheel will transform transportation and communication both. This is important in the history of communication because the earliest wheeled vehicles in the Chalcolithic period would coincide with the domestication of the horse, making long-distance transportation easier.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wheel.”

3100 BCE.

Earliest surviving Egyptian hieroglyphs represent a form of priestly writing kept alive by a literate elite. This is important in the history of communication because, as a form of writing practiced only by a small minority, the ability to read hieroglyphics became lost at some point in the early Common Era, and would not be re-gained until the nineteenth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia., “Egyptian Hieroglyphs.”

3100 BCE.

Horses first tamed and used for transportation in Asia and Asia minor, most likely on the Eurasian steppes. This is important in the history of communication because now people were communicating regularly with horses, which may not have been intellectually stimulating but could definitely provide a faster way to traverse the Eurasian steppes.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Domestication of the Horse.”

3000 BCE.

First recorded use of an Abacus, a primitive computing device that nonetheless is the conceptual forerunner of the present day personal computer. This is important in the history of communication because it represents a use of symbology to capture abstract mathematical concepts.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Abacus”

3000 BCE.

First use of Sumerian writing system, cuneiform, which marks the first move toward a symbolic alphabet. This is important in the history of communication because it is the foundation of written communication still in use today.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Cuneiform.”

3000-2400 BCE.

Earliest surviving papyrus scrolls testify to human use of written communication. This is important in the history of communication because papyrus is the origin of the modern word and concept of “paper,” still used for communication in parts of the world.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Papyrus.”

2000 BCE.

Earliest recorded postal system in Egypt. This is important in the history of communication because now written communication — which in most forms is likely to stay put, unless (e.g.) it is written on the side of a large moving animal (with the further additional difficulties entailed in having to catch and subdue such an animal long enough to write a legible message) — now has a reliable way for communicating across longer distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Mail.”

2000 BCE.

Earliest recorded invention of the chariot. This is important in the history of communication because people can now use chariots to travel longer distances to communicate. It is unlikely that they were able to communicate while riding on a chariot, except to their horses.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Chariot.”

2000 BCE.

Probable date of Stonehenge, a monument whose meaning is still hotly contested (cf. The popular but fallacious characterization by St. Hubbins and Tufnel, 1984), but most likely represents an attempt to keep track of astronomical phenomena on the part of a pre-literate society. This is important in the history of communication because records of the movements of the stars often represented information transmitted across generations, and thus was seen worthy of a more permanent record.

SOURCE: “Stonehenge” (St. Hubbins, David and Tufnel, Nigel: Polymer, 1984).

1200 BCE-1050 BCE.

Oracle bone script testifies to earliest use of written language in China. This is important in the history of communication because now Chinese people could finally use a written form of communication. It is also the earliest source for later Chinese written language, including ones used today.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Oracle Bone Script.”

295 BCE.

Foundation of the Library of Alexandria, which would become the largest repository of information in the Classical world. This is important in the history of communication because it represented an attempt to concentrate all world knowledge in a single location, a goal presently being attempted with different technological means by Google.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Library of Alexandria”

300 BCE-68 CE.

Dead Sea scrolls composed, mostly written in Hebrew, giving a rare glimpse into the range of religious manuscripts which would have been available at the time of the establishment of Christianity. Representing suppressed and heretical ideas, the survival of these original manuscripts occasioned a revolution in thought about the claims made by Christian scripture almost 2000 years later. This is important in the history of communication because it demonstrates how it is affected by large-scale social trends (the development of religious orthodoxy, and suppression of “forbidden” material).

SOURCE: Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

80.

The Antikythera Device, an early mechincal device for calculating lunar months, is built in Greece. This is important in the history of communication because it represents an early technological device that will eventually develop into something more communicative almost two millennia later.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Antikythera Device.”

Papyrus rolls are gradually replaced by the Codex, the precursor of the modern book. This is important in the history of communication because it permitted a larger amount of information than a scroll, thus increasing the amount communicated by a single artifact. They also represent a shift in book technology, to more resemble the writing tablets then in use by students, rendering the information more “user-friendly.”

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Codex.”

Publication of woodblock-printed edition of the Buddhist scripture The Diamond Sutra in China marks the earliest surviving example of a printed book. It was found in a cave in 1907, and taken by the British. As printed books are still in use today, both as repositories of information and for their more absorbent qualities under exigent circumstances, this is an important milestone in the history of communication.

Source: Wikipedia, “Diamond Sutra.”

1041-8.

Bi Sheng develops the first moveable type in China, sculpted from clay. The concept of moveable type would create a communication revolution when introduced five centuries later to Europe. In China it allowed for the preservation of scientific information, much of which would pre-date similar discoveries in the west. Bi Sheng’s typeface was not used in Europe, as very few Europeans of the early modern period communicated in Chinese.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Bi Sheng.”

The magnetic compass is first used in China. This is important in the history of communication because a magnetic compass is a device which communicates to its user which direction is north. This made travel substantially easier, increasing communication over long distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Compass.”

First public striking-clock is built in Milan at the church of Beata Vergine. This is important in the history of communication because a striking-clock communicates the time of day in an auditory fashion to those who understand how to interpret its musical communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Striking Clock.”

Earliest surviving use of European woodblock printing. This is important in the history of communication because it shows a distinct need for published communication in Europe before the use of moveable type by Gutenberg would cause a revolution in communication technology.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Woodblock Printing.”

1455-6.

Johannes Gutenberg prints the Gutenberg Bible, the first western printed book to utilize movable type. Gutenberg’s use of moveable type suddenly made the composition of numerous printed works easy and affordable: as opposed to a woodblock printing method, which required a single permanent engraved image for each page, moveable type allowed the compositor to use one set of typeface to produce numerous pages, or indeed books, printed in succession.

Source: Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Establishment of the Oxford University Press at Oxford University in England is thought to set up the world’s longest single continuous printer: the O.U.P. is still publishing books to this day.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Oxford University Press.”

French polymath Blaise Pascal develops his first computation machine, working with different designs for the next decade. Pascal’s early contribution to the science of computing resulted in a “computer language” being named after him over three centuries after his tragic early death. This is important in the history of communication because Pascal’s written French is still considered to be a model of elegance in French prose.

SOURCE: Nicholas Hammond (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Pascal goes on to develop the first public transportation system, a horse-drawn public bus with a regular schedule and fare system. This is important in the history of communication because the rise of urbanization that would accompany the birth of capitalism is overall responsible for a certain measure of social organization that would result in overall technological innovations, in addition to the invention of a new social category: the bus driver.

SOURCE: Nicholas Hammond (Editor), The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz — co-inventor with Sir Isaac Newton of mathematical calculus — works on Pascal’s designs to create a cylindrical gear calculator. This is important in the history of communication for the same reason as Pascal’s computation machine was. (See above.)

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz”

Leibniz first describes binary mathematics, which will become the basis of contemporary computing. This is important in the history of communication because without the ones and zeros of binary mathematics doing something on an infinitesimally small level in my computer right now, I would not be able to type the words that I am currently typing.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz”

The Montgolfier brothers invent the hot-air balloon. This is important in the history of communication because now aerostation and manned flight is possible for the first time, and soon the possibility of balloons being used as a means of military invasion was explored by Napoleon.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Montgolfier Brothers”

The modern bicycle first invented. This is important in the history of communication because the profession of bicycle messenger would follow soon, thus proving the usefulness of bicycles in the context of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Bicycle.”

French army forces in Egypt discover the Rosetta Stone. This is important in the history of communication because the parallel Greek, Egyptian demotic, and Hieroglyphic texts on the Rosetta Stone implied that hieroglyphic inscriptions were linguistic rather than religious in character, and might potentially be deciphered (as they soon would be).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Rosetta Stone.”

Richard Trevithick tests the first full-sized steam locomotive in England. This is important in the history of communication because developments in transportation affect the speed of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Richard Trevithick”

Robert Fulton builds and tests his first experimental steamboat on the River Seine in France. This is important in the history of communication because Fulton’s launch soon afterward of the first commercial steamship lines would help to facilitate commerce across longer distances.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Steamboat”

1803-4.

The Jacquard Loom is built by Joseph-Marie Jacquard, which employed punch cards to alter the complex patterns woven on industrial cloth looms — it is an early example of a programmable device. This is important in the history of communication because programming represents a way to communicate with complicated machinery.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Jacquard Loom.”

Champollion deciphers the Rosetta stone, marking the modern rediscovery of the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs. For why this is important in the history of communication, see the comment above on the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphs. SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Francois Champollion”

Charles Babbage begins production on a “difference engine,” a machine that would theoretically be able to keep track of complicated mathematical calculations through the use of gears. This is important in the history of communication because Babbage’s researches would establish a solid engineering foundation for the modern computer.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

The first typewriter is invented by W.A. Burt. Burt also invented devices for maritime use, which seems to have been his primary focus. Burt was a Freemason, a state legislator, and a territorial judge. His importance in the history of communication was in demonstrating the possibility of an operable typewriter, thus putting printing directly into the hands of the masses, for better or for worse.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “William Austin Burt”

Yale University alumnus Samuel F.B. Morse invents the “basic sense” of his Morse code for use by telegraph operators. Sterling and Kittross note that five years after this, Morse will apply for a patent on his telegraph invention. They additionally note that three years after the application, Morse will receive his patent. This presumably demonstrates the appalling slowness in communication which made inventing the telegraph an utter necessity.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

Babbage abandons the “difference engine” and begins design for the “analytical engine,” a much more complicated device which would be capable of programming much like a modern personal computer. This is important in the history of communication because it marked Babbage’s recognition of the central fact of modern computing — the capacity for storing information in abstract numerical format.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

Louis Daguerre’s first daguerrotype, the first visual image taken from light that was fixed and did not fade, was made. The precursor to the modern photograph, the Daguerrotype represents a first step forward towards the ready availability of porn in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Louis Daguerre”

Isambard Kingdom Brunel develops the first trans-Atlantic steamship, which soon enters into regular usage. Brunel — who was a Victorian engineer — built lots of other things which stayed put, like bridges. But the steamship enabled trans-Atlantic communication, commerce, and immigration to transform the later history of the nineteenth century and beyond.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Isambard Kingdom Brunel”

First electric telegraph lines in commercial use come into operation in July of 1839. Operating with use on the Great Western Railway, the telegraph makes more or less instantaneous written messaging possible across long distances. In 1839 the distance only ran for thirteen miles, but soon telegraph wires would criss-cross the globe and would contribute to the rise of modern journalism through the ability to offer written reports more or less instantaneously.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Telegraph”

Tauchnitz markets the first commercially mass-produced paperback book. Reprints of great English and American authors produced continentally (where they escaped copyright restrictions) made these Tachnitz books the direct ancestor of the modern mass-market paperback. These are important in the history of communication because it represents a greater spread of literacy and knowledge unto the proletariat.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Tauchnitz”

Ada Lovelace Byron publishes her account of how Babbage’s (unbuilt) difference engine could be programmed mathematically; this gives Lady Byron (herself the daughter of the “mad, bad and dangerous-to-know” poet Lord Byron) the honorific title of “First Computer Programmer,” and her birthday is accordingly celebrated by hackers as their annual holiday, Ada Lovelace Day (March 24).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Ada Lovelace”

George Boole develops the system of mathematical operations known as “Boolean Logic,” later the basis for computer operating systems. This is important because he is thought of in retrospect as one of the founders of computer science, and thus the means whereby most communication occurs in the twenty-first century, although he hardly realized it at the time.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “George Boole”

Charles Babbage develops a method for breaking polyalphabetic ciphers and uses them the next year to break the Vigenere cipher during the Crimean war. Babbage, as an early father of the computer, will not be the last Englishman to make contributions in the fields of both mathematical cryptography and the development of computing technology — see Alan Turing, below. This is important in the history of communication because I am writing this on a computer, and would not be without Babbage’s contribution to its development.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Charles Babbage.”

The first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable is laid. Sterling and Kittross note that this is the third attempt to lay the cable, but the first success. This is important in the history of communication because at this time London is the financial and banking center of the world — as well as the imperial center — but America, just emerging from Civil War, is a great source of raw materials. Communication between these two economic titans will drive technological innovation in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

The attachment of a Perreaux commercial steam-engine to a Michaux commercial iron-framed bicycle results in the first steam-powered velocipede. Patents filed four years later to copyright the idea make the Perreaux-Michaux steam velocipede the official first invention of the motorcycle, although steam-power rendered it a technological dead-end.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

Alexander Graham Bell makes the first transmitted statement over a telephone. Ironically Bell came to the telephone after a career in educating the deaf. Tragically, he could never teach them how to use the telephone properly. Bell’s first sentence spoken over the telephone — “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you” — did not strike contemporaries as the faintly homoerotic come-hither it resembles today. Nonetheless, the telephone was successful in giving people another means of communication.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Alexander Graham Bell”

William S. Burroughs (ancestor of the heroin-addicted novelist) invents the adding machine. His novelist grandson would later write Naked Lunch, a novel in which he describes hallucinating a giant talking anus on one of his illustrious forebear’s adding machines. The invention of Burroughs the elder is important in the history of communication because the computation of numerical data became vastly easier, and could be done by unskilled laborers; how the younger Burroughs’ Naked Lunch fits into the history of communication is anybody’s guess.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “William S. Burroughs (Disambiguation).”

George Eastman first creates paper-based photographic film that can be placed on a roll. He would file for a patent on the Kodak roll-film camera four years later. This is important in the history of communication because Eastwood’s advances in both photographic and cinematic technology helped to bring these to the masses.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “George Eastman”

German engineer Gottlieb Daimler — whose name is still borne by Germany’s largest auto-maker — develops with Wilhelm Maybach the Petroleum Reitwagen (“petroleum riding wagon”), the world’s first internal combustion petroleum-fuelled motorcycle. This made it possible to accomplish communication by means of a motorcycle.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

Herman Hollerith develops a punch card device to tabulate data from the U.S. Census, marking another stage in the development of computing machinery. This is important because Hollerith’s company would merge to form IBM, but also because it demonstrates the willingness of the U.S. Government to fund technology projects which would eventually lead up to the modern information revolution.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Herman Hollerith”

Hildebrand and Wolfmuller begin production of the first commercially mass-produced motorcycle. High purchase price and rapid design improvement by competitors over the next several years is thought to have rendered it a commercial failure.

SOURCE: Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle (1998)

The Rev. Hannibal Goodwin invents celluloid photographic film, which will become the technology that permits cinema photography to develop rapidly in the twentieth century. Little does the Reverend Goodwin suspect that in less than a century, over nine thousand pornographic films will be produced per year worldwide.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Hannibal Goodwin.”

Guglielmo Marconi makes a radio transmission across the English Channel. Marconi is not technically the first radio broadcast in history — this was made by Sir Oliver Lodge, who thought that broadcasts could only be made at a distance of a few hundred feet. Marconi proved Lodge wrong by getting his servants to carry the receiver at longer distances on his family’s estate.

SOURCE: W.P. Jolly, Sir Oliver Lodge. (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.)

1900.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin builds the first commercially operating airship. It achieves lighter-than-air status through the use of a hydrogen balloon. It is important for the history of communication for the same reason as other advances in transportation: it speeds up communication. Airships would decline in popularity after one exploded over New Jersey.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Zeppelin”

1901.

Guglielmo Marconi successfully accomplishes the first trans-Atlantic radio broadcast, from Newfoundland in Canada to an outpost on the west coast of Ireland. This is important in the history of communication because radio became the next big wave (pun intended) in communication thanks to Marconi.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Guglielmo Marconi”

1903.

The Wright brothers achieve the first man-made flight with a heavier-than-air vehicle at Kitty Hawk, in the Carolinas. This is important in the history of communication because airplanes can carry all kinds of things, including communications.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wright Brothers”

1905.

Marconi receives the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in the commercial development of the radio. The rubric specified his work in the commercial development of the radio, because nobody could deny that the first radio broadcast had been made by Sir Oliver Lodge in Birmingham. Lodge’s failure to see any commercial potential was Marconi’s gain, and Marconi would later note that if Lodge had not been mistaken in his mathematics, he might have been given greater credit for the invention that would transform communications.

SOURCE: W.P. Jolly, Sir Oliver Lodge. (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.)

1906.

Engineer William S. Harley together with his childhood friend Arthur Davidson, and Davidon’s brothers William and Walter, open their first factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the commercial production of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The factory location on Juneau Avenue remains the corporate headquarters of Harley-Davidson to this day.

SOURCE: Harley-Davidson corporation official website

1906.

The vacuum tube is invented by William de Forest in the U.S.A. Kittross and Sterling note that this is a three-element tube, known as a triode or Audion, which advances upon the 1904 invention in England of the two-element vacuum tube (or valve) by Fleming. This was a major advance in electronics, although the triode would ultimately be rendered obsolete by the transistor.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

1908.

A.A. Campbell-Swinton describes the theoretic possibility of using a cathode ray tube to establish “distant electric vision,” or what will eventually become known as television. He will later oversee a team that succeeds in broadcasting of faint visual images over a short distance.

SOURCE: Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

1908.

Henry Ford opens his first assembly line for the mass production of automobiles. This is important in the history of communication because one can now communicate by means of a readily available automobile — for example, by spelling out a written message in tire tracks on someone’s front lawn.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Henry Ford.”

1912.

Robert Goddard in the U.S.A. launches the first rocket powered by liquid fuel. This is important in the history of communication because seven years later Goddard’s publication “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” would lay bare the principles of racketeering and revolutionize military technology, and thus communications technology, in the rest of the twentieth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Robert H. Goddard”

1917.

The interception and decoding of the encrypted Zimmermann telegram by the U.S. Government is one of the factors that will draw the U.S. into the First World War. This is important in the history of communication because the increasing importance of military cryptography will work hand in glove with communications technology until eventually this process results in the personal computer and the Internet.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Zimmermann Telegram”

1920.

U.S. motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson overtakes various manufacturers in the Indian subcontinent for the title of world’s largest commercial motorcycle manufacturer.

SOURCE: Harley-Davidson corporation official website.

1927.

General Electric develops the modern flash-bulb for camera photography. This is important because it replaced the heavily flammable thermite flash powder which preceded it in use for photographing unilluminated areas. This was useful in the history of communication for allowing photographers to communicate all kinds of sordid things that would best have been left in the dark.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Flash (Photography)”

1928.

Germany develops the Enigma encoding machine, considered to be “unbreakable,” for use in encrypting sensitive government and military information. The race to break the Enigma code became vital in World War Two, and contributed (as will be noted) to the development of computing machinery and intelligence.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Enigma machine”

1928.

Philo T. Farnsworth first demonstrates for the press his Image Dissector camera tube system for what will become known as “television.” The first regularly scheduled television broadcasts supervised by the U.S. Government would begin that year. This is important in the history of communication insofar as television is important in the history of communication: it is unlikely that we would still be discussing Philo T. Farnsworth today if he had not invented television, and if Philo T. Farnsworth were alive today to see programs like “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” it is unlikely that he would have gone to the effort to invent television.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Philo T. Farnsworth.”

1935.

On 19 May, Colonel T.E. Lawrence — best known by his honorific nickname Lawrence of Arabia — is killed while riding a Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle. The death of Lawrence will lead neurosurgeon Dr. Hugh Cairns to develop the motorcyclist’s crash helmet still in use to this day. This is important in the history of communication because motorcycles can be used to communicate.

SOURCE: Harold Orlans, T.E. Lawrence, Biography of a Broken Hero, London: McFarland, 2002.

1940.

Igor Sikorsky designs what is considered to be the first modern helicopter. This is important in the history of communication because it represents an advance upon the earlier airplane in maneuverability, and is particularly well-suited to the heavily urbanized landscapes of the late twentieth century.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Igor Sikorsky”

1940.

Konrad Zuse introduces Z1, the first programmable calculating machine to use the binary system; it is a forerunner of the modern computer but was only designed to solve engineering calculations. This is important in the history of communication for pointing the way forward in computing.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Konrad Zuse”

1942.

The German V-2 rocket introduces developments in long-distance ballistics, and is able to strike a target at a distance of 120 miles. This is important in the history of communication because Werner von Braun’s V-2s might easily have won the war for Germany if the Germans under Heisenberg had been faster in developing a nuclear weapon.

SOURCE: Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Viking, 1973.

1946.

At Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert unveil ENIAC, an acronym for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the world’s first general purpose electronic computer, initially funded by the U.S. Army to calculate ballistics information.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “ENIAC”

1947.

A team of scientists at Bell Laboratories invent the transistor. The device will revolutionize radio, computing, and even calculator technology, and is important in the history of communication for speeding up and making more reliable and clear the existing technologies that incorporated it.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Transistor”

1947-1956.

Discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls leads to re-evaluation of the rest of the surviving written evidence related to Christianity. This is important in the history of communication for the same reason that the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone was: it enables us to reinterpret prior communication in a new light.

SOURCE: Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

1949.

RCA debuts the first 45 rpm record. This is important in the history of communication because it will contribute to the rise and eventual ubiquity of musical communication in the post-war period in the form of popular song, at first distributed chiefly on 45 rpm “singles.”

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Gramophone Record”

1950.

Alan Turing’s essay on Computing Machinery and Intelligence is published, speculating on the possibility that computers could get so complicated as to mimic human intelligence. Turing led the team which broke the German Enigma code, and in doing so was forced to develop sophisticated computational equipment. In the same year that he published his essay Turing would build the ACE, considered by many to be the first programmable digital computer, at the National Physics Laboratory in Engand. SOURCE: Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” 1950.

1951.

Eckert and Mauchly refine their designs for ENIAC to create UNIVAC, or the Universal Automatic Computer, the first commercially available mainframe computer. By the nineteen seventies UNIVAC would remain as one of only five firms making computing equipment, a situation to be revolutionized by the rise of the “personal computer” in the 1980s.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “UNIVAC”

1952.

Argentinan medical student Ernesto “Che” Guevara, together with his friend Alberto Granada, sets out on a nine-month tour of South America riding a single-cylinder Norton motorcycle. Guevara’s account of this journey, describing the deprivations of poverty from the Andes to the Amazon basin, credits the motorcycle journey with radicalizing his politics — he would later join the Castro Brothers to overthrow the existing Cuban government in favor of a Marxist revolutionary government still in place to this day. Guevara’s written account of the journey would not be published until over forty years afterward, released as The Motorcycle Diaries in 1993.

SOURCE: Ernesto “Che” Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries (1993).

1953.

Hollywood releases the Marlon Brando film The Wild One, loosely based on an incident in 1947 where a party of motorcyclists engaged in what Life magazine would term a riot. The association in the film of motorcycles with delinquency led to protests from American sellers of the Triumph Thunderbird 6T (the motorcycle used in the film).

SOURCE: The Wild One, dir. Laszlo Benedek. With Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin. (1953).

1955.

Universal Copyright Convention establishes copyright protection for authors of printed work extended to fifty years after death. This is important in the history of communication because the interference of capitalism in communication renders piracy a crime, albeit one that is very difficult to combat.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Universal Copyright Convention.”

1956.

AT&T lays the first trans-Atlantic telephone cable. This is important in the history of communication as it indicates another step on the direction toward complete networking that is the trend in the latter half of the twentieth century, continuing on into the present.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “AT&T”

1957.

Sputnik — the first man-made satellite — is placed in geosynchronous orbit after being launched by the Soviet Union. This is important in the history of communications as satellites will eventually be used for that purpose, long after Sputnik prompted the “Space race” of the two Cold War military powers.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Sputnik”

1957.

FORTRAN programming language developed by IBM. This is important as it will make computing accessible to larger numbers, and eventually will represent a revolution as computing alters communications technologies as well.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “FORTRAN”

1959.

The Xerox 914 becomes the first commercially produced office copier. This is important in the history of communication as the typewriter was also, in terms of the democratization in the fact of printing and reproduction of printed materials that it represents.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Xerox”

1961.

The first RAM (Random-Access Memory) chips are produced, changing the face of computing entirely. By permitting data storage with access to all portions of the memory at all times, RAM would offer a “writeable” memory, making programming and data entry more practicable.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Random-Access Memory”

1965.

Moore’s Law first stated by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors that can be placed (affordably) on a single integrated circuit would double in a period of two years, thus allowing growth in computing capacity to proceed more or less exponentially. Moore’s initial prediction was for the next ten years, but Moore’s Law has proved to be accurate to the present day.

SOURCE: Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near. New York: Viking, 2005.

1966.

Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson publishes Hell’s Angels, his book-length account of a stay with Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. Public panic about the association between these motorcycle enthusiasts would reach its zenith three years later at the Altamont motor speedway, when Hell’s Angels members, employed as security for a free concert given by the Rolling Stones, would murder an audience member in plain sight of the band and film cameras.

SOURCE: Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels (1966).; Albert and David Maysles, Gimme Shelter (1970).

1967.

IBM develops the floppy disk for data storage. The disks were made commercially available in 1971, and initially were eight inches long. Their reliance on magnetic storage permitted a greater ease of use in the 1970s and 1980s, although the technology has now largely been rendered obsolete by new forms of data storage.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Floppy Disk”

1969.

The first computers are linked in ARPAnet, a U.S. military program designed to send communication instantly from computer to computer, the direct forerunner of the modern Internet. This initial military and law-enforcement purpose for the Internet has led some (most recently Thomas Pynchon) to react with a sort of paranoia toward the communication opportunities offered by the Internet.

SOURCE: Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009.

1969.

Groundbreaking Hollywood film “Easy Rider” uses the motorcycle as a symbol of American freedom, co-written by novelist Terry Southern, who had also written the screenplay for Kubrick anti-nuke satire “Dr. Strangelove.”

SOURCE: Easy Rider, dir. Dennis Hopper, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.1969.

1969.

The UNIX operating system for computers is first employed at Bell Labs. This is important in the history of communication as the model for most university computing, and thus computing instruction in the latter twentieth century — the rise of the personal computer would bring literacy in the new technology to a much larger number.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Unix”

1969.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, calling themselves the “Lakeside Programming Group,” establish an agreement to de-bug existing programs at the Computer Center Corporation in exchange for time using the mainframe computers. Gates and Allen would eventually transform their partnership into Microsoft.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Microsoft”

1971.

Wakefield Poole directs The Boys in the Sand, the first full-length work of cinematic pornography aimed at a gay male audience. This is important in the history of communication because its popularity was such that it made back its entire budget within the first hour of showings in Manhattan’s Times Square. It also preceded the landmark work of heterosexual pornography Deep Throat by one year, and thus represents the first work of readily accessible full-length cinematic pornography to be produced after the Supreme Court decision striking down obscenity statutes on First Amendment grounds.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Wakefield Poole.”

1977.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founds Apple Computers. This is important in the history of communication as Apple continues over thirty years later to remain on the cutting edge of providing new technologies and designs for a large audience, changing the way music delivery and internet usage may be accomplished.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Apple Inc.”

1983.

The first CD player becomes commercially available. This is important in terms of the history of communication in that it marks a revolution, now fully in place, of shifting from magnetic data storage (cassette tapes and floppy disks) to digital data storage (CD, DVD, .jpeg and the like).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Compact Disc”

1988.

AT&T lays the first trans-Atlantic fiber optic cable. This is important in the history of communication as it reflects the change in technology — fiber optics represent an advance in speed and clarity of communication — at the same time as it represents the same old phenomenon of having to lay a cable across the Atlantic, despite the prevalence of satellites. Paradigm shifts move slowly.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “AT&T”

2004.

Google announces the Google Print Project, an attempt to scan all printed material in the world’s libraries to make it available on the Internet. Copyright difficulties have made the eventual outcome of Google’s ambitious plan uncertain. But it represents a digital update of the same principle as the Library of Alexandria (see above).

SOURCE: Wikipedia, “Google”

SOURCES CITED

Benedek, Laszlo (Director). The Wild One. With Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin. 1953.

Cross, F.M. The Ancient Library of Qumran. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Guevara, Ernesto “Che.” The Motorcycle Diaries. New York: Ocean Press, 2003.

Guggenheim Museum. The Art of the Motorcycle. New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1998.

Hammond, Nicholas (Editor). The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Jolly, W.P. Sir Oliver Lodge. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1974.

Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity is Near. New York: Viking, 2005.

Maysles, Albert and David (Directors). Gimme Shelter, 1970.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Orlans, Harold. T.E. Lawrence, Biography of a Broken Hero. London: McFarland, 2002.

Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Viking, 1973.

Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009.

St. Hubbins, David and Tufnel, Nigel. “Stonehenge.” London: Polymer, 1984.

Thompson, Hunter S. Hell’s Angels. New York: Modern Library,1966.

Wikipedia.org


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