It’s hard to imagine a world without the internet. A world without e-mails, telephones and television. But believe it or not, there was a time where the world was very much disconnected and sending information or messages was a very long and excruciating process. This all changed, with the introduction of the telegraph in 1837, thanks to Samuel Morse. Since then, the world has become increasingly closer and has led to the interconnected global nervous system that exists today.
The revolutionary invention of the telegraph in 1837 became the catalyst for further technological breakthroughs, such as the first use of an undersea cable across the English Channel in 1851 which eventually led to the first trans-Atlantic cable in 1866. This was only the beginning towards a globalised world. By 1878, the telephone was invented and bought the world even closer. However, as Lampe and Ploeckl (2014, pg.249) point out, such technologies did not just affect the societal aspect. Many professions, particularly journalism and financial-based jobs, went through significant change. The emergence of the telegraph was particularly significant for newspapers, who were “historically strongly linked to postal services”, prior to the telegraph (Lampe & Ploeckl 2014, pg.249). The telegraph significantly reduced the amount of time it took to deliver the news globally and saw many people become more interested in what was happening globally, rather than just what was happening locally.
Although I could go through every significant technological discovery since the telegraph, I would like to instead skip to the 20th century to talk about what is arguably the most important technological innovation since the telegraph: The Internet. The Internet’s history spans back to the 1962, where an associate professor at MIT, by the name of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (J.C.R), introduced his idea of a “Galactic Network” However, it wasn’t until 1993 that the World Wide Web was actually released to the public (Sheppard,2014). Developed by CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) employee Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, the internet was initially mostly embraced by those with significant knowledge in all things technology. Between 1995 and 1999, however, the general public slowly began to also embrace the internet. Once the first form of instant messaging was introduced in 1996, many began to see the internet as more than simply text. The internet eventually led to the emergence of Google, which has become an essential tool for people around the world, as well as social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter which have also changed the way we communicate to others and share information.
Now that we live in such a connected global nervous system, where sending information or communicating to the other side of the world only takes mere seconds, it will be interesting to see where technology will evolve from here. For now, we can just enjoy what we have and embrace these various technologies.
Lampe, M, & Ploeckl, F ‘SPANNING THE GLOBE: THE RISE OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS AND THE FIRST GLOBALISATION’, AUSTRALIAN ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 242-261.