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Milestones in Communication

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Milestones in Communication

Milestones in Communications

The capabilities of modern communications would utterly astound our ancestors. Did you ever stop to think that it took five months for Queen Isabella to hear of Columbus' discovery, or that it took two weeks for Europe to learn of Lincoln's assassination?

We take for granted immediate news of everything that is going on in the world, but it was not always so. Modern technology and future predictions are easier to comprehend when we view them in terms of our past. What follows next is a list of what we consider some of the more significant events in the annals of communication. Our list is arbitrary and includes items chosen not only for technological innovation, but for creativity and human interest as well.

The Battle of Marathon ' Pheidippides' Run

For centuries, the speed of communication was, in essence, the speed of transportation. Perhaps no event so dramatizes this limitation as Pheidippides' run following the battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

As told in the history books, a badly outnumbered Greek force defeated an invading Persian army on the plains of Marathon, 20 miles from Athens. Fearing that the defeated Persians would regroup and attack Athens and that the city would surrender without knowing of the victory, the Greek general dispatched his swiftest runner, Pheidippides. As he reached the city, Pheidippides stumbled, delivered his message, and fell dead of exhaustion.

Paul Revere's Ride

"One if by land and two if by sea" refers to lanterns hung from the North Church in Boston in 1775 to indicate the route the British were taking. The lanterns were the signal for Paul Revere to begin his famous midnight ride, perhaps the most famous communication in American history, immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem.

In actuality, Revere made two rides, on April 16 (to warn the patriots to move their military supplies) and again on April 18 (to tell the people to take up arms.) Few people know that Revere was accompanied on the second ride by two other patriots, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, and that he was captured by a British patrol and subsequently released. Dawes and Prescott escaped.

Reuters News Service

Reuters today is a worldwide newsgathering agency, owned by the British Press Association. It was founded in 1849 by Paul Julius Von Reuter, and the creativity of its founder merits Reuters' inclusion in our list of communication milestones. The original service used carrier pigeons to bring closing market prices from the stock exchange in Brussels, Belgium, to Aix-la-Chapelle (now Aachen), Germany.

The Pony Express

Would you spend $5 to send a half-ounce letter that will take 10 days to get to California? That was the rate charged by the Pony Express, which in its day provided the fastest possible delivery to the West Coast.

The route of the Pony Express stretched 1966 miles from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. Relay stations were set up every 10 to 15 miles along the way, where lonely keepers took care of the horses. Young riders rode at top speed from one station to the next for wages for $100 to $150 per month. In all, there were about 190 stations, 400 station keepers and assistants, 400 horses, and 80 riders. Despite the hardships of riding in all kinds of weather and the constant attacks by Indians and outlaws, the mail was lost only once in the more than 650,000 miles logged by the riders.

The Pony Express had existed for barely a year and a half (from April 3, 1860 to October 24, 1861) when telegraph connections were completed between the east and west coasts. Unable to compete, the promoters of the Pony Express were ruined financially.

The Telegraph

Samuel F.B. Morse, an artist turned inventor, is credited with building the first commercially practical telegraph. Morse's first line opened in 1844; it stretched from Washington to Baltimore and was soon extended to New Jersey. Some enterprising individuals used the telegraph to communicate lottery results to New York, where hefty sums were won before people caught on to this new form of "instantaneous" communication. Less than 10 years later, the entire country east of the Mississippi was connected by over 18,000 miles of telegraph wire.

Western Union was formed in 1856 and completed the ...

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Keywords: milestones in communication technology, milestones in communication science uva, milestones in mass communication research, milestones in mass communication research media effects, milestones communication skills, communication milestones in child development, communication milestones in toddlers, milestones of early communication development

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