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16 times technology changed communication for the better - the ultimate timeline

03/ 04/ 17 Mariel Rubinstein

Communication may have started off with sitting down and having a conversation, but technology really did improve it for the better. So, we’ve put together the ultimate timeline of the technology that has changed communication in the world as we know it.


33,000 BC - Cave Paintings



One of the first ways we communicated as the human race was as easy as grabbing a handful of berries and using their juice to paint images on the walls of a cave. If only it was that simple nowadays...


100 BC - Paper



It might sound silly but paper is a piece of technology that progressed communication across the entire world. The little sheets of usefulness were developed in ancient China and boy are we happy they were. We might be trying to use less paper in the world today but imagine life without it - it’d make things a whole lot harder that’s for sure!


150 BC - Smoke Signals



As early as 150 BC, chinese soldiers were able to communicate with others along the Great Wall by sending smoke signals. The messages would reach as far as 750 KM away in just a few hours. Pretty impressive stuff.


1440 - 1605 - The Newspaper and Printing Press



Although the printing press, the tool for printing ink on paper, was introduced in 1440, it wasn’t until 1605 that the first newspaper hit the shop shelves. The newspaper transformed the way we consumed and communicated information across the world. It gave us a way of finding out exactly what was happening on the other side of the world and kept the whole population in the loop. Nowadays, we might neglect our paper copies but at the time, this was pretty radical.


1836 - Morse Code



Morse code was a pretty cool technique we used to communicate information. A series of on-off flashes of light, clicks or taps could be directly understood by any listener who was also in on the technical language. Now try working out this...



1868 - The Typewriter



Before we got the computer keyboard, we had to do it the old fashioned way and that meant typewriters. You weren’t able to edit, delete and wait for it… there was no autocorrect. Having said that, the typewriter transformed the way we communicated using the written word. It was a lot quicker than writing everything by hand and it definitely took away the need for that fancy handwriting.


1876 - The Telephone



It’s a given that the telephone was a piece of technology that transformed communication across the world. It might have taken a while before everyone got their hands on a device and you could call Sally down the road to see if she’d heard the latest gossip. But, the telephone took global communication to a whole new level. Now the capacity for real time interaction across huge distances was magically possible.

Although Alexander Bell wasn’t actually the first inventor to come up with the idea of the telephone, it was his design that made the cut. And with a name like Alexander Bell, he was probably destined to create it. We’re big fans. 


1901 - The Radio



In 1901, the first successful transatlantic radio transmission took place. As early as 1939, the majority of housewives considered the radio to be more important in their homes than a fridge or an iron. Now, if that doesn't show you just how revolutionary the radio was, we don’t know what will.

At first, the radio was used mostly for listening to music and entertainment but lots of networks soon started to broadcast news segments. These began to rival print media because it was so quick and easy to tune in and hear the latest. And let’s face it, tuning into radio 1 with a cup of tea definitely beats running to the local corner shop for the daily newspaper.  


1926 - The Television



In 1926, John Logie Baird transmitted an image of a moving face via the radio. It might not sound like much but this was widely considered the first television demonstration in history. Luckily for us, technology has dramatically improved and we can now catch the latest episode of Friends whenever we fancy.


1964 - The Word Processor



The word processor brought us the ability to compose, edit, format and print documents. It dramatically increased the speed of writing and it also saved us a whole load of trees. Not bad eh?


1960s - 1970s - Email




The email took the letter and made it digital. You no longer needed to catch the last post of the day and we could finally say goodbye to licking all those envelopes - no one likes that funny taste do they?

The beauty of email servers meant they could accept, forward, deliver and store messages all with a click of a button. Not only did emailing make things super easy for everyone, but also incredibly quick. We might take for granted how simple it is to send a complaint email to Tony from HR but emailing really did transform the way we interact, especially in business.


1982 - 1989 - The Internet and The World Wide Web



The Internet started off as ‘the network of networks’ mostly for military and academic purposes until Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. This gradually expanded until it became the phenomenon that it is today. Suddenly all the information you ever needed was at your fingertips. Which when you think about it, is pretty insane.


1983 - The Mobile Phone



The world picked up and said hello to the first commercially available mobile phone in 1983. Motorola’s mobile creation took roughly 10 hours to charge, offered 30 minutes of talk time and could recall 30 phone numbers. It cost $3,995 at the time, which today would be almost $10,000 - and you couldn’t even check your Facebook!

So, although the telephone had already improved global communication for the better, now we could chat and interact on the go. Now that’s what we call a game-changer.


2003 - Skype



Although there’s rumours that Skype is on it’s last legs, when it first came about, not only was it super cool but it made communication instantly easier. Yes, the mobile phone may have already allowed us to speak to people on the other side of the world, but now you could see them at the same time. Magical. 


2004 - 2010 - The Age Of Social Media




Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006) and Instagram (2010), collectively transformed the way we communicate as a population. Suddenly it only took a click of a button to interact and communicate with friends, family or really anyone in the world. Although social media upped the immediacy of communication even more than the phone or email, it changed the way we interacted as a population.

We no longer need to type, speak or write to say something. Instead, we can show our feelings by ‘liking’, ‘favoriting’ or ‘sharing’. It’s almost as if social media has digitalised our body language. It’s given us a way to communicate digitally without saying anything at all. Powerful stuff.


2005 - YouTube



YouTube took video to another level. It gave normal people the opportunity to film and capture something and then share it with others. There isn’t a need for professional lighting or super expensive video equipment, instead it’s all about what you’re capturing and communicating it with the world. The visuals of something are a big part of how we communicate and YouTube made this even easier to share. You can watch the very first Youtube video here.


2010 - Whatsapp and Messenger



The mobile phone may have brought us the text message, but technology like Whatsapp and other social messengers really improved communication for the better. The ‘group chat’ is one messenger feature that solved the difficulties of communicating with lots of people at the same time without doing it via tons of separate conversations. Now, if you’re the queen of your mates group chat, you’ll know what a game-changer this is!


Mariel Rubinstein

Digital Content Producer from London

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