Vol. 12, No. 1
News of the Field:
|A Victorian Internet?
Mercurians need no reminder that the Internet is not the medium of the first communications technology revolution. Indeed, some will claim that the development and implementation of the electric telegraph had the greatest impact of all the communications revolutions. Some will not. There was printing, after all. But, be that as it may, readers may be interested in looking at The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers by Tom Standage (1998), available in both paperback and hardcover.
Standage explores the business, political, and social impacts of the telegraph. Fortunately, he does not neglect the Chappe optical/mechanical telegraph, built first in 1791, and the basis for the semaphore systems. Antenna articles have explored the significance of this and other optical systems for long-distance communication, as well as the electric telegraph, one of our favorite topics of study. But don’t forget printing when you are thinking of communications revolutions!.