One of the great changes to our world over the past 100 years has been the invention of electronic communications. It all started with the telegraph and since then new inventions and innovations have created an information age that includes smart phones and high definition video over the internet.
The invention that got electronic communications started was the telegraph. It was invented by Samuel Morse in 1836. He also developed the Morse Code which allowed the signals that the telegraph sent over the wires to represent words and phrases.
Around 40 years after the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell received the patent for the telephone. Now instead of just beeps of sound, a person's voice could be transmitted over long distances of electric wires. Later inventions like faxes and modems would allow other information to pass over the same wires. Large switching networks were built throughout the world allowing telephones in nearly every home to connect with each other.
Fiber optic tubes of glass use light pulses to communicate
As the amount of information has grown, more and more data needs to be transmitted over long distances. One of the ways to send data faster is with fiber optics. Fiber optics are long skinny tubes (like wires) made of glass. Instead of electricity they transmit light. Light can travel at much faster speeds and over longer distances than electrical pulses. There are fiber optic connections today that can send 100 billion signals per second!
Radios have been used for a long time, but in the 1990s cell phones started to become popular. Cell phones send information using radio frequencies through the air. New technologies have allowed for faster signals and even video to be sent to and from cell phones.
Cell phones use radio frequencies to communicate through the air
Perhaps the most important invention in the area of electronic communications during recent times is the internet. The internet is made up of millions of electrical and fiber optic links. These links form a network that allows information to get passed and "switched" all over the world. More information is now available at your fingertips and on your computer at home than you could hope to read in a lifetime.
Fun facts about Electronic Communications
There are around 250 billion emails sent every day. Around 80% of these are spam.
Around 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Fiber optics are good because they use less energy and are better for the environment than electrical wires. They are also very resistant to weather.
The first telephone pole was built in 1876.
There are over 4 billion cell phones in the world. Over 100 million cell phones are thrown away every year.
The first cell phone was invented by the company Motorola.