A Short History of Telecommunications

We rely on telecommunications every day in West Virginia, whether it’s talking on the phone, watching television or using the internet for work and school. Technology and telecommunications make it possible to shop, socialize, work and keep ourselves entertained from anywhere in the world—and it all started with smoke signals. Here’s a brief history of telecommunications.

Primitive telecommunications

Telecommunication is, at its most basic, communicating information over a distance. The first types of telecommunication included smoke signals and drums. They could be used to announce the presence of military troops and camps, but they were used for other communications as well. Flags and pigeons were used similarly.

By the late 18th century, the first telegraph lines were built. From there, technology steadily increased the ways people could communicate over long distances.

Modern telecommunications

Today, telecommunications span everything from telemedicine and pathology in West Virginia to business and recreation. Here are some of the major modern inventions that paved the way for our new way of life:

  • Telephone: The telephone was invented in the 1870s, with the first commercial telephone services founded in the later part of the decade. Previously, overseas communication was limited to the post. With the invention of the telephone, people were suddenly able to communicate with others across the world, instantaneously.
  • Radio and television: Radio waves were harnessed for communication starting in the 1890s. By 1901, the first successful overseas radio transmission (between Canada and England) was recorded. Inventors were able to transmit the sound of a human voice. By the 1920s, primitive versions of televisions were invented, and gained widespread popularity in the decades that followed. Now it’s hard to imagine a home without a television.
  • Transistors: Transistors were dreamed up in the 1920s, but weren’t officially invented until 1947. Transistors made it possible to increase the bandwidth over radio, telephone and television waves. This allowed users to send more data at a faster rate.
  • Satellites: Satellite technology became available in the late 1950s. Today, the technology powers internet, phone, television and other telecommunications methods.
  • Videotelephones: Adding video to voice telecommunications was conceived in the late 1870s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that it became possible. (Imagine how impressive FaceTime would seem then.)
  • Computers and internet: The most primitive version of the internet was launched in 1969, and by the mid-1990s, websites and email became standard technology. Today, we use the internet for just about every facet of life. High-speed networks like integrated digital network services (ISDN), broadband and fiber optic make it all possible in West Virginia.
  • Digital phones: Digital telephones have their roots in the 1970s and 1980s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that they became popular across the world.
  • Wireless networks: Finally, wireless networks were invented in the 1990s, and are directly responsible for the proliferation of modern technology we use today.

As you can see, the history of telecommunications in West Virginia (and beyond) is a long one. Reach out to GlobalTech Communications today to get your business or organization connected.

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