It’s easy to think of long-distance communication as a relatively modern innovation. However, our earliest ancestors were also concerned with relaying information over large areas of land.


We often take our modern technology for granted. For example, we experience a fuzzy connection or a receive an error message, and we become impatient! Examining the history of mass communication can put our current technological advantages in perspective! Unlike previous civilizations, we don’t have to resort to mastering the elements in order to send a message.


So how did we get to the communication methods we enjoy today? Read on to find a brief history of long-distance communication and explore some of its major players.


Our Ancestors: Creative Communication


In ancient Asia, people used drums to disseminate information. They employed instruments to warn their citizens and allies of impending danger and also sounded drums during religious ceremonies.


A similar phenomenon occurred in African villages. When European colonists landed, they were surprised to find that news of their arrival had already spread throughout the tribes.


Over in Ancient Persia, the locals opted for  a different approach and created a postal system. Throughout history, other civilizations utilized carrier pigeons, messengers, and smoke signals to broadcast messages.


New Technology: The Telegraph


In 1838, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and the Morse Code System, which would be employed in maritime communication. Around the turn of the century, industrialization and the emergence of a middle class afforded civilians an exposable income. As design became more sophisticated, those possessing both “new” and “old money” lined up to travel aboard large ocean liners. They updated friends and family on their voyage by using the ship’s morse code.


“Hello, Operator?” — The Telephone


Alexander Graham Bell is credited as inventing the first practical telephone in 1876. This was a revolutionary technological achievement, and it allowed people to do business (and communicate with loved ones) across the country.


However, the original telephone system is very different than the one we recognize today. In the telephone’s earliest years, most calls took roughly seven minutes to set up and were transferred through operators and switch boards.


The Modern Age


My how things have changed!


After the landline phone, we progressed to large car phones, followed by flip phones, and finally saw the emergence of smartphones. Today, family, friends, and romantic partners can keep in touch via Skype and other Internet telephony!


Many restaurants come equipped with WiFi and we stay connected on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It seems the question has shifted from “How do we connect?” to “What methods of connection do we find most fulfilling?” As our technology gets more advanced, our world shrinks in size. Truly, we are only limited by our imagination and willingness to innovate. So what does the future hold? Hopefully, a connected, peaceful world!


What is your preferred method of long-distance communication? Leave your comments in the space below!