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By Kyle McRae

A Book Explaining the Evolution of Communication

Technology Through History

Table of Contents
Cave Drawings.3
Cuneiform Writing...4
Papyrus Paper..5
Parchment Paper.....6
Smoke Signals.8
Chinese Manual Printing Press..9
German Mechanical Printing Press..10
Mechanical Telegraph..14
Electric/Morse Code Telegraph...15
The Babbage Engine..17
Mail Delivery Service Systems..18
Radio Waves...21
Landline Telephones.26
Cell Phones...28
Chat Rooms...31
About the Author...36

Cave Drawings
The first known method of communication by humans is cave drawings. Using either a
sharp tool, or makeshift paint from crushed berries, mud or soot, the Neanderthals
would often draw pictures of animals or humans. Due to the fact that these paintings
started to appear around 40,000 years ago, scientists arent able to accurately determine
the messages that the cavemen were trying to display. The popular theories are that they
were used to decorate, to aid spiritually in a hunt or to exemplify their great feats for
future generations to be awed by. Over time, cave drawings would evolve into signs,
which allowed villagers walking by to view information on a current situation or a new
product, without the need of a person nearby.

Cuneiform Writing
Thousands of years after the creation of cave drawings, humans had evolved quite
dramatically, so the creation of a new method of communication became necessary.
Cuneiform was invented by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia around 3500 BC, and was
quickly adopted by other regional civilizations. At its very beginning, cuneiform used
easily drawn images that represented people, places, objects or events, otherwise known
as things that could be seen by the human eye. However as it became more popular, it
became more apparent that symbols had to be created to represent thoughts, feelings
and ideas. It was originally written carefully with a stylus on a clay tablet, which could
easily be transported, and allowed people who lived far away from each other to
communicate, as long as they were willing to pay the messenger the appropriate fee.

Papyrus Paper
Around 3000 BC, a new surface that could be written on was discovered along the Nile
River in Egypt, that was much lighter and easier to transport than a clay tablet. Papyrus
paper was created by cutting Cyperus papyrus into slices, laying the pieces side by side,
which was then soaked in water and pressed under a rock for around twenty days. Since
this material weighed a lot less and could be rolled up, messengers could transport more
messages at a time. Papyrus paper was also much easier to write on, since words didnt
have to be carved onto its surface, but rather written on. The fabric wasnt very strong
however, so texts would potentially have to be rewritten if the paper was torn.

Parchment Paper
Throughout the second century BC, a new type of paper began to rival papyrus, that
used the skin of animals instead of wood, yet resulted in a writing material that was
much more expensive. Parchment paper could be written on on both sides, and due its
strength and flexibility, multiple pieces of parchment could be sewn together to form the
spine of a book. These two advantages allowed its popularity to increase, and caused
papyrus to be used less. Parchment was originally created because the king of Egypt did
not want to export papyrus paper to Pergamum, due to the fact that it could cause a
rivalry between the library of Pergamum and that of Alexandria.


Smoke Signals
A method of communication that was popular with Native American Indians and the
ancient Chinese was to send a message through the use of smoke. Setting themselves up
on a mountain or any other area that was visible from far away, the messengers would
make different patterns of smoke float up into the air using a fire bowl to signal, for
example, that everything was fine, or that help was needed immediately. Different
patterns could be interpreted differently by other tribes or camps because there was no
universal patterns; in other words, one puff of smoke might mean something to one
tribe, but something completely different to another tribe.

Chinese Manual Printing Press

Around 1050, the first manual printing press was invented by Bi Sheng in Bianliang,
China. The first step in creating the machine was cutting pieces of wood into the 3,000
most common Chinese characters, which surprisingly didnt take him that long. Sheng
would then place the characters that were needed on an iron board, then a piece of
paper would be pressed against the symbols which had a layer of water-based ink. This
process would be repeated until the needed quantity of papers was met. This quickened
the process of the copying of texts quite drastically, since they were previously copied
painstakingly by hand.

German Mechanical Printing Press



Newspapers started to become used during the Renaissance period in Europe, when
merchants would hand off letters to each other containing information regarding the
conditions of multiple aspects of their city (economy, war, politics, etc.). The first true
English newspaper was the London Gazette, which started in 1666, and the first
American newspaper was entitled Publick Occurrences, and was created in Boston in
1690. Publick Occurrences didnt last very long however, due to the papers subject
matter, which resulted in the arrest of the publisher and the destruction of nearly every

The first successful american paper was the Boston News-Letter, created by John
Campbell in 1704, which was subsidized by the colonial government, and by 1783, there
were around 43 newspapers in print. During this time, newspapers were used mainly to
express political opinions, but would eventually come to explain current events and
other important affairs happening in the country.

In the 1830s, thanks to advancements in technology, newspapers started to become

available to the general public, since they could now be bought for a cent per copy, when
previously only the rich, literate minority had the funds and the capability to read the

In the 1850s, during the first Industrial revolution, printing companies were capable of
printing large numbers of papers, and the introduction of pictures appeared during this

time as well. During the early 20th century, smaller companies would be bought out by
larger manufacturers, and thus resulted in newspapers become very bland in opinion.
As time passed, newspapers would have a smaller part in society due to the introduction
of radios and televisions.


In 1849, Antonio Meucci accidentally discovered the science behind the telephone while
performing a medical experiment. When Meucci placed electrodes in the mouth of his
patient, which were connected to an electric generator, and also connected himself to
the machine to make sure that the current wasnt too strong, he was able to hear what
his patient was saying. Using this knowledge,
Meucci developed the teletrofono, two cones
that were connected together by an
electrically-charged copper wire. When
something was said at the transmitter cone, it
could be heard coming out of the receiving cone,
a creation similar to the two metal cans attached
by a string, popular with little children.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Augustus Watson

popularized/modernized Meuccis invention of the
telephone. Unlike Meucci however, the duo were able
to get a lot more investors interested, allowing for the
product to skyrocket in demand. Then finally, in early
October, they successfully had the first two-way long
distance call. The success of the telephone resulted in
the foundation of the Bell Telephone Company, a
corporation which is now found all across Canada and the United States.

Mechanical Telegraph
During the French Revolution, Claude Chappe, an inventor, was approached by the
government of France, who were currently being overthrown by the people that they
ruled over. They asked Chappe to create a system that would allow them to receive
messages from their far-away armies, without the use of a messenger. Using a pair of
wooden arms, symbols would be created at the top of a tower, which would then be
transmitted from tower to tower until the message reached its destination. Although this
invention was revolutionary, it couldnt be used at night or in bad weather, it had to be
operated manually (meaning messages could not be sent very quickly), and anybody
who knew the semaphore alphabet could expose the secret messages.


Electric/Morse Code Telegraph

Around the beginning of the 19th century, american and european scientists started to
experiment with electricity, allowing them to discover several things about it. One of
these discoveries was that signals could be sent from one electromagnet to another. By
placing electromagnets at equivalent intervals, messages could be sent over long
distances, an innovation that was discovered by Joseph Henry. About half a decade
later, Samuel Morse created a language that was composed of a combinations of dots
and dashes that represented letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, which we now
know today as morse code. Each tap would send an electrical current, which would
travel along miles of wire, and once it reached its destination, the current would be
transformed back into dots and dashes. The main advantages of this style of telegraph
over the mechanical one was that messages could be kept secret, they could travel over
longer distances with less manual labour, and they could be used at any point in the day.





The Babbage Engine



Mail Delivery Service Systems

Around 2400 BC, Egyptian pharaohs sent messages throughout their country through
the use of a courier. It is difficult to determine who created the first actual mail delivery
service since the majority of them started to appear in the 18th and 19th century all
across the world, with their level of organization varying drastically.

However, what is believed to be the first actual postal system was invented in Paris by
the Frenchman De Valayer. De Valayer set up mail boxes on streets and delivered
messages to these drop-off points in exchange for money. Unfortunately his business
didnt last very long because rivals would place mice in his boxes, scaring away his
customers before they could up their mail

In 1837, the postage stamp was created by Rowland Hill, an Englishman, who thought it
would be smarter to charge a package for its weight, instead of its size. This innovation
made mail delivery much more logical in relation to how much to charge for a delivery.

In March of 1860, the Pony Express found its

beginning when an American transportation
pioneer, William Russell, listed an ad in several
newspaper asking for young men who were fit
enough to ride a horse across the country in order
to transport mail. Most of the journeys took about
10 days, a major improvement in time compared

to the baffling six weeks by boat that it took previously to ship mail from coast to coast.
Unfortunately, the Pony Express delivery service didnt last long because the telegraph
was becoming more and more

After it was realized that pigeons

were very intelligent creatures that
could travel back to the location
they came from, they started to
become used as messengers during
the late 19th century. After they had been transported by way of varying transportation
methods, pigeon handlers would attach crucial messages onto the ankles or the backs of
a few pigeons (in case some of
them got shot down or killed by
German falcons). They would
then return to their home, and
deliver the message to an
awaiting soldier. Pigeons were
responsible for saving the lives
of many soldiers in need of help,
who were unable to communicate with their bases, and it was thanks to these birds that
they were able to be rescued.


Throughout the rest of the 19th century and the 20th century, mail would be delivered
by continuously evolving postal service, which would expand and provide faster
delivery, through the use of trucks, airplanes, boats and door-to-door service.


Radio Waves






The radio was the first machine that allowed for mass communication. It was first used
for contacting ships out at sea using morse code messages, when sailors would need to
alert stations on land of a problem. After heavily being used in World War I, the
invention started to be used in the United States and Europe. Founded in 1922 by
Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, and other prominent figures in the
development of wireless technology, the British
Broadcasting Company (or BBC) began broadcasting
plays, classical music and variety programs in
London, but quickly spread to the rest of the UK by
1925. At several points in history, whether it be
during the General Strike of 1926, when printing
workers went on strike, stopping the
production of newspapers, or instead during
the Second World War, when television
stations were shut down, radio broadcasts
were the sole source of information. Even
today, when cities are struck with power
outages, radios are one of the few inventions that dont require a connection to an
electric socket, with the invention of portable radios that can pick up AM and FM
signals. It didnt take long for the system to be adopted in North America, and it was and
still is a frequently used piece of tech all across the globe. However, at the beginning of

the 21st century, new satellite radios that could pick up XM signals were developed,
allowing listeners to listen to radio broadcasts from all around the world. In 2015, the
radio is used as a music player and a distributor of information.


Landline Telephones
Landline telephones were invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, and allowed for
verbal communication across long distances. Thanks to their increased usage during the
20th century, landline telephones became more and more accessible, since more and
more telephone lines were being constructed. During the early to mid 2000s, landline
telephones reached their peak in popularity, since, after 2006, wireless communication
technologies started to take center stage. However, one of their main benefits, even in
2015, is that calls can still be made when electricity is lost during a power outage.


Around 1965, when computers were just starting to grow into the powerful machines
that they are today, an electronic mailing system called MAILBOX was used. MAILBOX
could allow users to send messages to people who were using computers on the same
network, through the use of dumb terminals, which had the sole purpose of
connecting computers together so they could send and receive messages.

However, at the time, it was impossible to send messages to computers that were on
other networks, that is, until 1972. In this year, Ray Tomlinson created a program that
was able to do just that, and through the years he made many adjustments to it to make
it even better. These changes were to make the service more accessible, to make the
service look more aesthetically pleasing and to make it more efficient. Although it is still
quite heavily used by most people, texting is now used for shorter amounts of text.


Cell Phones
Before the cell phone, machines called radio common carriers (or RCCs for short) were
used; similar to a walkie talkie, when its push-button was pressed, it could transmit
voice communication. The only differences are that
it used a public telephone network and had its own
unique telephone number.

The worlds first cell phone was the Motorola

DynaTAC 8000x, and sold at a price of $3,995 (no
there isnt a missing decimal) during the early 80s. Created by
Ernie Wise, the invention had an instant success, and had a
waiting list for six months after launch. Bearing an LED screen,
the humongous phone allowed the user to have thirty minutes of
talking time before the battery died.

Being the first flip phone on the market, the MicroTAC

(a.k.a. the Clamshell) went for a bit less than its predecessor,
costing its consumers around $2,500. The improved cell
phone was much smaller than the DynaTAC, offered a 12
digit keypad and was hands-free operational. Over the years,
the size of the phone would continually decrease until
smartphones took over the phone market in 2007.


In 1998, the Iridium Communication Services Program was

launched, and allowed its customers, for the first time in cell phone
history, to communicate with anyone around the world. However,
as its name suggests, the phone would only connect to satellites
orbiting in space instead of nearby cell towers.

What could easily be seen as the first smartphone, the PDA

(Personal Digital Assistant) was the first cellular phone to bear a
touchscreen. Popularized by
Palm, the phone had a
virtual keyboard, handwriting recognition and
Internet connectivity, all features which were
unheard of for cell phones in the 90s.

The Nokia 6000 was the phone that really

introduced cell phones to the general public, since it made mobile communication
affordable as well as widely available during the early
2000s. Although the phone itself looked very generic,
the world would be vastly different without its
influence in the cell phone industry. A few years
later, in 2004, a new phone, the Motorola Razr took
its place, as it bore a much more sleek figure.


Also debuting in the early 2000s, the Blackberry introduced instant messaging, a feature
that is almost impossible not to find on most of todays phones. It was quickly adopted
by many businessmen/businesswomen. A phone that would be more friendly for
teenagers and casual cell phone users would arrive a little
later, bearing the name T-Mobile Sidekick, which bore
a sliding keypad.

In 2007, Apple took the world by storm when it

introduced the iPhone, a phone that was more than just a
phone. Working as a GPS, TV, camera and overall
entertainment system, the iPhone had a large influence
on the cell phone industry. Flip phones went extinct (for the most part), and the new
thing was touchscreens, apps and a new connected world. It didnt take long for
companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola to make their own versions of these
smartphones. Now, in 2015, its almost impossible to
not find someone under 40 who doesnt have one of
these machines. And theyre only getting lighter,
larger, and even more powerful (and influential). But
as Uncle Ben once said: With great power, comes
great responsibility.


Chat Rooms
During the 90s, online chat rooms, where friends could send each other messages,
either privately or to a group, were the newest trend. However, it was in 1978, when Roy
Trubshaw, a student from the University of Essex, developed a program that allowed
people to take part in a fantasy based game, based off of the dice-based game Dungeons
& Dragons, called Multi-User Dungeon (or MUD), and indirectly created the first online
chat room. Players could communicate what would happen next in the game via
messages, and other players could type in replies, just like a normal conversation.

In August of 1988, Internet Relay Chat (or IRC) was created by Jarkko Oikarinen while
working for the University of Oulu in Finland. With the intention of actually creating a
chat room rather than a game, Oikarinen created a program that resulted in the sole
method to communicate information to outside the borders of the USSR for news
regarding the Soviet coup dtat attempt of 1991. This caused the program to become
used worldwide, with thousands of IRC networks currently used for discussing several
different topics.

In 1995, Java Chat was created as a byproduct of the Java language developed by
computer engineers from Sun. Instead of being a downloadable program, Java Chat
could be easily accessed when logged into a website on a browser. They are frequently
seen as the customer service chats that appear when logging into a business website, but
are also used for recreational and personal purposes. Also gaining popularity in 1995
was Instant Messaging Chat Rooms, a service which started off as an exclusive program

for AOL members, which allowed them to communicate with each other over the
Intranet. However, in 2001, the program was made public, and non-AOL subscribers
could communicate with each other in private chat rooms.

Nowadays, voice chat has replaced chat rooms, with services like Xbox Live, Skype and
Facetime. Starting with Microsofts NetMeeting, users of the program could
communicate with other members through the Internet by using their voice instead of
typing messages. Although texting and chat rooms are still very prominent in most
people's lives, voice chat technology is being developed to deliver even smoother and
crisper sound quality.


How has the Evolution of Communication Technology Affected our

Day-to-Day Lives?
There was a time when people only knew those who they were closest to, both
geographically and mentally. Then people learned how to talk, allowing them to interact
with people they had never met before, and start to communicate with them. Then
people learned that they could send messages from one small village to another. Then
people learned how to make multiple copies of messages, and send them to multiple
destinations. Then people learned how to communicate with each other while being
miles away from each other. Then people learned how to broadcast information across
an entire country. And now, people have discovered how to communicate with people
across the globe; now, somebody from Bolivia can have a grand old conversation with
their friend in Italy.
Do you know the expression its a small world? The evolution of communication
technology has made this statement oh so very true. We now live in a connected world
(albeit maybe a little too much) where something occurring in Canada can be discovered
by the population of Australia in a matter of minutes. One hundred years ago, it would
have taken much longer.
Although this might seem amazing, just like everything else in the world, this innovation
does have some negatives. For example, since news from all around the world is
available at our fingertips, we tend to get addicted to finding out what the latest trend is,
instead of looking up from our phones and communicating with the people around us.
Although this rule doesnt apply to everyone, it has caused many people to not bother
trying to create new relationships, since they have the Internet to help them pass the
time instead.
Dont get me wrong though; faster and more efficient communication has resulted in the
saving of many peoples lives since people can be alerted of incoming threats before its
too late. People are also able to catch up with people they havent seen in years because
we live in a world thats so connected.


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About the Author

Kyle McRae is a young author from Montreal, Canada. He has been fascinated with
technology since a very young age, and has become acquainted with it, as much of his
generation has. This book is his IB personal project for St. Thomas High School, and this
sentence acts as a certification that he did write this book.


Hello? is a novel explaining the evolution of technology used for

communication throughout history. Have you ever wondered how humans
first talked to each other? How we went from cave drawings, to typewriters,
to cellphones? The way humans communicate has changed significantly
over the centuries, so join us on a journey throughout time to see how far
weve come since the time of cavemen! Were certain its something youll
about for a long time.