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Discover The Origins Of Network Communications

Aug 11, 2008
In this age of instantaneous network communications, it is easy to forget that just fifteen years ago there were no emails, chat rooms, internet telephone conversations and the expensive mobile phones in circulation could be doubled up as an effective door stop. Where would we be without our wafer thin, Bluetooth, want it yesterday technology? This article looks at what was and what could be without the developments network communications technology.

I think we can accept that before literally everything people communicated by grunts and hurling faeces at one another, so we shall start from one of the most famous network communications of all time, Marathon. There was in place a network of communications, albeit an incredibly primitive one but nevertheless an incredibly important message was sent and received in the time required. Although instead of the battery on a laptop dying, the messenger who delivered it died.

All the network communications technicians wipe their brow in relief as we no longer live in a society where the messenger is literally shot, although network communications are massively important for survival not only in the business world. After the messenger from Marathon dropped dead people started thinking outside the box and using beacons, mirrors and torches. It feels strange to call this a technology but it was, and used into the twentieth century.

The major problem with the beacons, mirrors and torches, were that network communications could only be extremely simple. The American Indians had been using smoke signals for years which could provide a number of different messages, however this was not sufficient. As with many technologies it was the militarisation of wartime that pushed development in network communications further.

During the end of the eighteenth century the French were in a sticky position, surrounded by hostile countries and battling dealing with a revolution. They desperately need to communicate as quickly as possible so the Chappe brothers covered the country with 556 optical telegraph stations. The optical telegraph sent messages via visual signals from a tower which had various paddles which altered their shape, each mechanical element bearing part of the message.

The Chappe brothers created the first real example of network communications on a large scale with their communication network spread over 4, 800 kilometres. This was followed closely by the electromechanical telegraph and although this was a much more effective than the preceding technology it was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that the communications network bore fruit.

The telegraph required a networked series of wires that would pass current though to send the message. Samuael F. B. Morse patented the first electrical telegraph and worked out a series of dot-dash cryptographic representation of the alphabet known as the Morse Code. The Italian Marconi invented the first wireless telegram via radio signal at the turn of the century and in 1901 Marconi successfully sent the letter S across the Atlantic creating the first of many transatlantic network communications.

This communications network development and its cousin the telephone mapped the path for the massive leaps taken in recent years. Network communications have evolved at an astonishing rate in the last half a century, mainly due to satellite and internet technology.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is an expert in communications networks and a qualified telecommunications engineer.
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