Communications Timeline

Smoke signals



Carrier pigeon


Major events in history are often thought of as those most affecting the world today. In communications this would include the inventions of radio, telephone, and film, for example. Of course, other factors like longevity of departed technologies and their contribution to future development must be considered, as advances in writing and print eventually led to newspapers. Also, we cannot just ignore other historical events that were significant for their time, especially those involving dominant communications media such as human speech or electromagnetic wave technologies like radio. Rare spoken languages characteristic of rare localized human populations often tell us much about such peoples, something that is a major reason to work for their preservation.

With these complex evaluation criteria in mind, it's not a simple matter to build a timetable of the most significant events in the history of communications. Scholars from different fields would certainly agree with most items listed below.


U.S. Pony Express


Message in a bottle

25,000 BC Use of speech, sign language, and cave paintings by Homo sapiens
10,000 BC First petroglyphs
8000 BC North America climate stabilizes, becoming much like today
3000 BC Nahuatl culture and language first appear in Central America
3000 BC The Phoenicians develop an alphabet.
2900 BC Egyptians hieroglyphic writing 
1775 BC Greek phonetic alphabet, writing from left to right
1400 BC Oldest Chinese record of writing on bones
1270 BC First encyclopedia is written in Syria
900 BC 	Postal service - for government use in China
776 BC 	Use of homing pigeons to send messages (Greece)
530 BC 	Greeks start the very first library
500 BC 	Portable papyrus rolls and parchments made of dried reeds
490 BC  First heliographs used
310 BC  First recorded messages in bottles were released in Ancient Greece
300 BC  Development of Maya code - logograms complemented by symbolic glyphs
200 BC 	Messengers on foot or horseback in Egypt and China using relay stations
105 BC 	Tsai Lun of China invents paper as we know it.

14 AD  Romans establish postal services.
37  Heliographs - first recorded use of mirrors to send messages by Romans
100 First bound books
305 First wooden printing presses invented in China 
1049 First movable type invented 
1400 Aztec's using smoke signals to 'log on', signal battles
1450 Newspapers appear in Europe
1455 Johannes Gutenberg invents a printing press with metal movable type
1560 Camera Obscura invented - primitive image making.
1620 First English-language newspaper published in Amsterdam
1650 First daily newspaper - Leipzig
1714 First patent for a typewriter (England)
1773 First speaking machines in Europe for whole words and short sentences 
1793 first long-distance semaphore (visual or optical) telegraph line
1814 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce achieves the first photographic image
1820 Primitive sound box serves as the first microphone
1821 George Guess (Sequoya) invented the Cherokee syllabary 
1828 First printing of Cherokee Phoenix, first Native American newspaper
1831 Joseph Henry invents the first electric telegraph
1835 Samuel Morse invents Morse code
1837 Victoria era in England ushers in Language of Flowers for communication
1843 Samuel Morse invents the first long distance electric telegraph line
1847 The first stamp issue of the U.S. was offered for sale
1860 Official opening of the Pony Express on April 3
1861 Opening of Transcontinental telegraph ends Pony Express on October 24 
1861 Kinematoscope flashes a series of still photographs onto a screen
1866 Transatlantic cable completed after 5 attempts and 9 years
1867 The first successful and modern typewriter
1876 Thomas Edison patents the mimeograph - an office copying machine
1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents the electric telephone
1876 Dewey Decimal System invented for cataloging library books
1877 First phonograph with a wax cylinder as recording medium
1888 George Eastman patents Kodak roll film camera
1889 Almon Strowger patents the direct dial telephone exchange
1897 Marconi establishes radio station on the Isle of Wight, England
1899 Loudspeakers invented
1902 Marconi transmits radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean
1906 First transmission of what is now known as amplitude modulation (AM) 
1910 Thomas Edison demonstrated the first talking motion picture
1915 First cross continental telephone call made by Alexander Graham Bell (25 Jan)
1916 First radios with tuners used to scan different stations.
1923 The television (cathode-ray tube) invented 
1925 John Logie Baird transmits the first experimental television signal
1926 Warner Brothers invented a way to record sound separately from the film 
1927 NBC, CBS founded 
1927 First television broadcasts in England
1927 "The Jazz Singer" released, first successful talking motion picture
1930 First television broadcasts in the United States
1934 First tape recorder for broadcasting - first magnetic recording
1937 W1XOJ was the first FM radio station
1938 Taping and editing of television broadcasts
1939 Scheduled television broadcasts begin
1944 Computers put into public service - Information Age begins
1945 Secret Navajo code communication helps end World war II
1948 Long playing vinyl 33 rpm record invented
1948 Transistor invented - enabling the miniaturization of electronic devices
1949 Network television starts in U.S.
1949 45 rpm record invented
1951 Computers are first sold commercially
1951 First 10-digit (area code) customer-connected long-distance telephone call
1958 Chester Carlson invents the photocopier or Xerox machine
1958 Integrated Circuit (IC) invented
1959 Fisher 500 AM/FM hi-fi receiver
1965 Text-only electronic mail (E-mail) launched for time-sharing communication
1963 Zip codes invented in the United States
1964 Fiber optic cable communication invented
1966 Xerox invents the Telecopier - the first successful faxsimile machine
1969 ARPANET - the first Internet started networking
1971 The computer floppy disc invented
1971 The microprocessor invented - considered a computer on a chip
1972 HBO invents pay-TV service for cable
1976 Apple I home computer invented by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak
1976 First nationwide satellite programming implemented (Ted Turner)
1979 First cellular phone communication network started in Japan
1980 Sony Walkman invented
1981 First IBM PC, first laptops sold, mouse becomes main computer accessory
1983 GPS ceased being solely a military system and was made available to public
1983 Time magazine names the computer as "Man of the Year"
1983 First cellular phone network started in the United States.
1984 Apple Macintosh released.
1985 Cellular telephones in cars becoming wide-spread
1985 First computer CD-ROMs 
1988 First computer sound cards; new communication modes like PSK-31 soon followed
1992 Yale Professor of Anthropology Michael Coe published Breaking the Maya Code 
1993 Carl Malamud launched Internet Talk Radio
1994 American government releases control of internet and WWW is born
2001 Ipod invented by Steve Jobs, Apple Computer
2007 Iphone invented by Steve Jobs, Apple Computer
Sequoyah (Sequoia, Sikwayi):
Inventor of the Cherokee Syllabary

Candlestick
Telephone


EXTERNAL LINKS & REFERENCES



ABOUT.COM Timeline for Computers
WIKI Timeline of Communication Tools
WIKI Meanings for Language of Flowers



Chemical
Telephone