Communication methods are something that we have used since the beginning of time itself to convey absolutely everything. Can you imagine a world of total silence or a world without any kind of visual communication? Think about how many different forms of communication you use every day just between your smartphone and your computer. You have access to hundreds if not thousands of forms of communication on a device that you can fit in your pocket.
Today we are going to take a look at the history of communication since the beginning of time and how we got from primitive modes of communication like smoke signals and cave writings to the first mailing system, the telegraph, the computer, and the revolutionary invention of the smartphone.
B.C. Picture Based Writing Systems
The earliest found form of visual communication exists in ancient cave paintings. The earliest existing cave paintings that we have found that are actually left on the planet are dated back to 30,000 B.C. Early prehistoric humans used cave art and cave paintings to not only communicate with other people, but to also record pieces of history and tell stories.
Some of the oldest known pictures based writing systems on the planet are now known as petroglyphs, which are etchings that are actually carved into a rocky surface or a stone.
Smoke signals were originally used by the Ancient Chinese to send smoke signals along the Great Wall of China. Native Americans also used smoke signals to communicate with each other.
The first alphabets were created by the Ancient Egyptians sometime between 2700 BC and 2000 BC. The Egyptians created a set of 22 hieroglyphs (you may have heard of the term “hieroglyphics”) to represent combinations of syllables and consonants. They used these glyphs as guides for pronouncing logograms, and also used them to aid in the transcription of foreign names.
Now, you may think that this is a joke that is saved for cartoons, movies, and TV shows, but carrier pigeons were a real mode of communication. This idea was developed by Sultan Nur-ed-din around the 12th century AD. This sultan built lofts for pigeons in Damascus and Egypt, and managed to train his pigeons to deliver messages hundreds of miles apart.
Between these times we saw the development of the postal service and delivered mail.
The telegraph is something that you may have heard of before. It was an electronic way to send messages through a wire, which could be translated into a message. The telegraph was developed by Samuel Morse and a handful of other inventors. Morse sent the first recorded telegraph in 1844 from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. Even though the telegraph is now, totally outdated, you could say that it actually laid the groundwork for the telephone and fax machine, and could even be considered the grandfather of the internet.
Computers and Dial Up Internet
Do you remember the funny dial up tones that your computer used to make when it was working on getting you connected to the interne? We Do! It is wild to think that we once had to wait to be connected to the internet, as opposed to the constant, instantaneous connection that we have to the web today via wifi and digital networks.
This is something that we have seen revolutionize communication in the way that we interact with each other. The first SMS message, or text message, was sent in 1992. All it read was “Merry Christmas” which is kind of novel and cute considering that now, almost 10 trillion texts are sent each year. That number is only going to rise more and more with the population growth and the number of new people that are preferring the use of text messaging to phone calls.
Smart Phones and Tablets
Smartphones and tablets have only amplified our level of connectedness to everyone around us. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, we had computers that used to take up entire rooms in offices and schools. We now have that power and speed a thousand times (and more) over, on devices that fit in our pockets, purses, and backpacks. Smartphones keep us connected on so many levels.
Since the advent of social networking sites, the internet and human connectedness have never been the same. We can all take our hats off to Tom, your first friend on Myspace, and Mark Zuckerberg for being able to know what our entire social network is doing at anytime of day.
Where Are We Heading?
We have seen so many different changes and developments in the way that we communicate just in the last 10,000 years, and really, so much has changed in just the last 100 years. It is going to be nothing short of phenomenal to see how communication is going to continue to change and evolve over the next hundred years.