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Published On: Fri, Nov 27th, 2020

The Evolution of Communication: A Complete Guide

Throughout the course of history, as society has evolved and technologies have become more developed, so has various modes of communication. Communication is integral to any functioning society and to businesses as it is the key to understanding people. It has evolved from signs and symbols to alphabets, letters, and telephone. Today, the Internet era has paved the way for innumerable means of communication.

Technology has indeed redefined communication. People no longer have to wait for years, months, weeks, and days to receive information or message. Today, texts, e-mails, tweets, and personal messages can reach the recipient in just a matter of seconds. In particular, text messaging is a global phenomenon – across the 21 countries surveyed, about 75% of cell phone owners say they text.

How did technology become to be what it is today? We’re tracking down the history of communication from the first symbols on a wall to the message that comes through to your phone when you hear it ping. Let’s get started!

photo/ Mashiro Momo

Symbols

Before there was the alphabet, there were symbols. The oldest form of symbols used for communication was cave paintings. According to historians, cave paintings were created by the very first humans to mark territory or to record events. The oldest cave painting was discovered inside Chauvet Cave in France at around 30,000 B.C. 

Around 10,000 B.C., petroglyphs were invented. These were carvings on the surface of rocks. In 9,000 B.C., pictograms were developed. These were images that told a story. Later on, ancient cultures developed ideograms. Egyptians had their hieroglyphs and the Chinese created characters. 

Finally, the alphabet, which redefined language and communication, was developed around 2,000 B.C. Letters can be considered symbols as well, and the alphabet we know today is our main form of communication, such as when mailing a letter using envelopes from envelopesuperstore.com

Carrier Pigeons & Postal Systems 

Did you know that pigeons are naturals when it comes to directions? Over 2,000 years ago, the ancient Romans used pigeons as primary messengers between military men. In the 12th century, messenger pigeons were widely used as a “postal” service. They also played a vital role in World Wars I and II.

Speaking of postal services, these systems have been around since 2,400 B.C when the Egyptians used courier services to send communications to each other. As of today, a piece of mail which dates back to 255 B.C. is still preserved. It wasn’t until 1653 when Frenchman De Valayer started a postal system in Paris, which involved the use of mailboxes and delivery of paid envelopes.

photo/ Prashant Gautam

Telegraphs and Telephones

You’ve probably heard of Samuel Morse and the Morse code, which set the course for the creation of the telegraph and eventually the telephone. The Morse code transmitted messages through a series of clicks, tones, and lights that must be decoded. This was used during World War I so that message communications were not intercepted by the enemy. 

In 1830, Morse integrated the Morse code in telegraphy technology that revolutionized long-distance communication. By 1844, Morse had sent his first telegraph message.

Not too long afterward, the telegraph was replaced by the telephone in 1876, invented by Scottish Alexander Graham Bell. It worked by converting human audio signals to electronic signals which are transmitted via cables. It was further developed to commercially cater to local and long-distance calls. By the 1900s, landline telephone service began. Today, the telephone is still one of the most reliable forms of communication. 

Text Messages

The first official text message, or SMS (Short Message Service), was sent on December 3, 1992, when Neil Papworth, an engineer, used a computer to send “Merry Christmas” through the Vodafone network. In 1994, Radiolinja was the first network service provider to carry out person-to-person text messaging. 

Now, SMS has evolved and grown in popularity with the rise of more advanced cellphone technologies such as the iPhone which makes it easier than ever before. Over 9 trillion texts are sent every year!

Internet and Social Media

After the creation of computers in the 1950s, the internet first emerged in 1973. The first internet service provider was Telenet. In 1983, the domain system started. By 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist, introduced the World Wide Web, which started the modern internet.

With the rise of the internet came additional channels for communication. It started with emails, with Yahoo being born in 1994. Social media came about with the creation of MySpace in 2004, followed by the emergence of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.  In 2005, YouTube became the first-ever popular video hosting social media site. In 2006, Twitter began to dominate the social media scene. Today, these platforms are still giants in the social media field alongside Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Author: Shruti Gupta

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