For as long as humans have roamed the planet, we’ve invented forms of communication that have constantly developed the ways in which we interact. Today, in a world that is riddled with iPhones and Social Media, it is hard to see how people communicated before. What did we do without mobile phones? How did someone send a text? Join Neighbourhood as we travel through the history of communication to see how we got to where we are today.
Before the invention of the telephone, there were many forms of communication. One of the oldest forms of long-distance communication is smoke signals, which dates all the way back to ancient times. Smoke signals were typically used to communicate important news such as danger or to get people together in a single area. Another lost form of communication is messenger pigeons. Homing pigeons would fly to their destinations to deliver messages, this was most useful during the war which is why they are also named war pigeons.
One of the biggest developments did not come until 1831 when Joseph Henry invented the Electric Telegraph. Even though before this there were other forms of communication such as post due to innovations in printing via printing presses, it wasn’t until the development of electrical engineering in the 19th Century where new methods of communication started to evolve.
The electric telegraph used electrical signals to convey messages which were the first form of electrical communication. These electrical signals needed a code which was developed by Samuel F.B Morse in 1837, called Morse Code. This code translated letters into on/off signals which were used as a prime source of communication during its time.
It wasn’t until 1849 where one of our most recognisable and useful forms of communication was invented, the telephone. Even though it was invented by Antonio Meucci in 1849, it wasn’t until 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell won the first U.S patent to make the phone. Before the invention of the telephone, however, the word telephone was used for other inventions and not just the phone as we know today. Within 50 years of the phone’s release, the phone had become an irreplaceable invention in homes.
Just over 100 years after the initial invention of the phone, in 1973, Motorola created a device that is in nearly every pocket of every person on this planet, the mobile phone. Before this, telephones all had cords, tethered to one spot in your house so you could never have a conversation in private. The mobile phone changed this forever, although it was certainly not what we know today, it revolutionised the field of communication forever, starting a chain reaction of development.
One of the most iconic phones ever invented is none other than the Nokia 3310, because who doesn’t remember snake? The game entertained us all for many hours a day. It was an amazing time, where you didn’t have to worry about dropping it or running out of battery, the iPhone could learn something about battery life from the most beloved phone in history.
If there is one invention that has forever changed the way we communicate with one another as well as live, it is the invention of the internet. Before the internet, you would have to actually have a conversation with someone to learn about them or go to school to learn something new. The internet came along and changed the way we interacted with the world forever. Although the internet was being developed in the since the 1950s, it wasn’t until 6 August 1991 when the internet was brought to our homes, a day that changed everything. With the internet came one of the most iconic moments in human history, MSN Messenger. Remember, every day running home from school to talk to your friends about everything and anything who you had just seen half an hour before?
The internet was a game changer, with people reimagining what is possible with technology as well as what could be done with devices that already existed. If there was one thing the mobile phone was missing since its birth it was the internet. Even though phones had access to the internet, it was extremely difficult and expensive. That wasn’t until the invention of the smartphone. In the early 2000s, companies such as Blackberry and Nokia were making phones that connected us to the internet.
One of the most memorable of all these phones is the Blackberry Curve 8520, using BBM to catch up with your school friends every day and to message your crush. The world of smartphones was forever changed on June 29, 2007, the release of the iPhone. The iPhone pushed the mobile phone into the modern day, it is a device nearly every one of us has in our hands every day and a lot you are probably reading this article on right now.
The final stage in this story is social media, remember MySpace. Today when we think of social media, we think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but it was MySpace that was the first major social media platform. Before this, there were other blogging sites but none quite as big as MySpace. Founded in 2003, MySpace was the most beloved time of our lives, even though none of us use it anymore, it has a special place in our hearts. The launch of Facebook and Twitter was in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011. Social Media has changed the way we live, oversharing our lives for all to see, curating our identities on the internet that is hardly a true reflection of who we are.
Throughout history, every time there is a development in communication, we become more dependent on it. Our culture today is so used to living online that we are unaware of how to communicate offline, we are so used to creating an identity online that offline we don’t know who we really are. We have become dependent on the internet in every aspect of our lives, from personal to work. Although every development has enhanced our lives even more, every development has also reprogrammed our lives.