Today, telecommunications technology affects lives to a greater degree than everbefore. Communication has evolved over many years from the earliest attempts atverbal communication to the use of sophisticated technology to enhance theability to communicate effectively with others. Every time a telephone call ismade, a television is watched, or a personal computer is used, benefits oftelecommunication technologies are being received. The concept oftelecommunications may be defined as the transmission of information from onelocation to another by electronic means. Telecommunications is using electronicsystems to communicate. Life is changing constantly and has been changing fastersince the rapid advancements in telecommunication. Because of continuingattempts to find better and more efficient ways to communicate, the process ofcommunication has steadily improved. Many of these improvements were madewithout the use of electronic technology.
Human beings earliest attempts atcommunication were through nonverbal means such as facial expressions andgesturing. The use of these nonverbal signs, prehistoric people were able tocommunicate emotions such as fear, anger, and happiness. More specific motions,such as pointing, allowed them to convey more information . Verbal communicationprobably started with a series of disorganized but meaningful sounds (grunts andsnarls). These sounds slowly developed into a system of organized, spokenlanguage that truly allowed humans to share information (Croal 59). Writing,which is the use of symbols to represent language, began with early cavedrawings, progressed to picture writings such as hieroglyphics, and finallyevolved into the handwritten language we use today (Croal 61). As civilizationdeveloped, people found it necessary to communicate their ideas to one anotherover greater distances.
The earliest method of transporting information was tocarry it from place to place; but as the development of commerce made speed anessential part, greater effort was expended to increase the rate at which ideaswere transmitted (Croal62). The search for rapid transport of information led tothe formation of the pony express in 1860 (Cozic 77). Although the pony expressrequired several weeks to carry mail from the East Coast to the West Coast, itwas a vast improvement over the earlier methods. The pony express was not theonly time humans teamed up with animals to attempt to improve communications.Dogs and pigeons were used to carry messages, especially during wartime . Most,if not all, of the early forms of communication had two significant problems.Both the speed at which information could be effectively communicated and thedistance over which information could be sent were severely limited. With theadvancements in forms of electronic communication, these problems were solved.
It was even before the pony express that a true technological breakthrough wasmade. In 1844, the first electronic transmission occurred when Samuel Morsedeveloped a system of dots and dashes to symbolize letters of the alphabet. Atransmission device called the telegraph was used to send the coded signals overwires. The telegraph was to become the primary method of reliable and rapidcommunication during the American Civil War . It took quite a few years to linkthe major cities of America by telegraph wires, but by 1861 the pony express wasreplaced . Telegraphic communication became a major part of Americas businessand military history. One of the early telegraph companies, Western Union,became the dominant carrier. Today, Western Union, through the use of moderntechnology, transmits information twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Actual voice communication over distance finally became possible in 1876 whenAlexander Graham Bell held the first telephone conversation with his assistant,Thomas Watson . This alternative to written communication rapidly helped thetelephone become the worlds most important communication tool. By 1866 thefirst successful attempt to link Europe and America by undersea cable had beenaccomplished. This cable was capable of carrying telegraph data only . Thetelephone today remains a vital tool, and like the telegraph, the telephone isconstantly being improved by modern technology . By 1900, the goal ofcommunication technologists was to find a method of transmitting messages overlong distances without the need for wires. That dream became reality in 1901when Gugliellmo Marconi and two assistants stood on a hill in Newfoundland andlistened carefully to their receiver.
Faintly they heard the Morse code”dot-dot-dot,” the letter s. the signal had traveled 1,700 miles fromCornwall, England, and it represented the first successful wirelesstransmission. This success led Marconi to form Marconi Wireless TelegraphyCompany. It was not until the Titanic disaster in 1912, however, that wirelesstransmissions became commercially profitable. As the Titanic was sinking, theships radio operator transmitted distress signals over his wirelesstelegraph. A passing ship, the Carpathia, which sped to the Titanics locationand rescued 700 of the 2,200 people aboard, picked up the signals. Shortly afterthis disaster, most maritime nations required wireless telegraphs on all largeships.
The Marconi experiment eventually led to the development of the radio. Onan evening in November, 1920, radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,went on the air with the first live radio broadcast. By 1922, 564 radio stationswere on the air. Today, thousands of radio stations broadcast our favoritemusic, news, weather, and sports information . As important as it was, theimpact of the transmission of sounds by wire and by wireless methods seemsminor, when the effect of television, the device that permits the transmissionof both sounds and images. In 1926 J.
L. Baird, working with the BritishBroadcasting Company (BBC), became the first person to transmit a televisionpicture, and in 1936 the worlds first television service was introduced . By1948, twenty television stations were on the air. The first color televisionservice began in the United States in 1954 .
Sociologist James K. Martinbelieves ” The impact of television is legendary and has totally changed theway American families live” . Modern telecommunications rely on moderntechnology and one of the most important elements of that technology is thecomputer.
Todays computer industry is moving with great momentum. Mostschools are equipped to teach computer skills, and it is no longer rare for astudent to come to first grade with a basic understanding of computers gainedfrom the familys personal computer . In 1930 an American electricalscientist, Vannevar Bush, constructed the first analog computer .
However, theperson credited with developing the first digital computer is Howard Aiken ofHarvard University, who completed his project in 1944 . Analog signals are aconstant flow of information, whereas digital signals are a series of shortbursts of information. Historian Mark Halls says, “most historians point toENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) as the real beginning ofcomputer technology” . Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania built thisgiant computer in 1946. ENIAC utilized vacuum tubes to control computerfunctions. The concept of storing programs in a computers memory is credited toJohn van Neumann, an American mathematician.
It was in 1951 that the developersof ENIAC constructed Univac I, which became the first computer to bemass-produced . The traditional U.S. postal service is not oriented to meetneeds for instant information access, so many mailboxes have become electronic.Electronic messages can be sent any hour of the day or night using a computer, amodem, and a telephone. These electronic messages may be read, filed, stored,erased, printed, and rerouted. A computer used in conjunction with the telephoneline and a television set allows homeowners to view merchandise, compare prices,and do electronic shopping.
No longer are bank customers dependent on bankershours to withdraw money or to obtain account information . Many school librarieshave a new reference resource, an electronic encyclopedia. Libraries connect toelectronic encyclopedias with personal computers. Facts can be read on thescreen or sent to the printer.
Through the use of telecommunications, theopportunity to access vast amounts of information located in large commercialdata bases are beyond belief. Within a matter of seconds, a computer can accessinformation and can appear on its screen. Today, information services bring newlearning opportunities and data into the home through telecommunications ). Theinformation age has already arrived, and telecommunication technology has playedan important role in it. It has already had an impact on what have beenconsidered traditional methods of transmitting information over distances. Thisnew technology has also changed the methods by which information is manipulatedand stored. Telecommunications is changing the way people work, play, live andthink.