Telecommunication History

This post is create tribute to my beloved lecturers in Brawijaya University. They taught me about this material in last 5 semesters when I was a college student. And until this day, I still loooove this things! I wish someday I will be able to learn and know more, then apply this subject matter 🙂

Telecommunication comes from “tele” and “communication”. Tele means far or distance, and communication means interaction between human. So we can conclude that “telecommunication” means a way to communicate people in far distance. This technology is hugely popular in this world. Everybody need telecommunication. In this globalization era, we must consider how important the telecommunication is. Just like what I did, I write a blog, so I able to communicate with other people around the world and share everything I want to share. Amazing, right? It is not only about telephone or fax, but this era has blackberry, facebook, twitter, etc!

A Post Pigeon Delivers Mail

But let’s talk about the past life first. Long time ago, people usually use letter to communicate with someone far away. For example, a king ask his servant to send a letter to other king in other kingdom,, hehehe :P. Besides that, some people were able to train a pigeon to be able to send a letter to the right person, hoooww, coool :D.

The Illustration of Smoke Signal to Communicate in Far Distance

Early telecommunications included smoke signals and drums. Drums were used by natives in Africa, New Guinea and South America, and smoke signals in North America and China. Contrary to what one might think, these systems were often used to do more than merely announce the presence of a camp.

A picture of semaphore signs

In 1792, a French engineer, Claude Chappe built the first visual telegraphy (or semaphore) system between Lille and Paris. This was followed by a line from Strasbourg to Paris. In 1794, a Swedish engineer, Abraham Edelcrantz built a quite different system from Stockholm to Drottningholm. As opposed to Chappe’s system which involved pulleys rotating beams of wood, Edelcrantz’s system relied only upon shutters and was therefore faster. However semaphore as a communication system suffered from the need for skilled operators and expensive towers often at intervals of only ten to thirty kilometres (six to nineteen miles). As a result, the last commercial line was abandoned in 1880.

Wheatstone’s Telegraph System

The first commercial electrical telegraph was constructed in England by Sir Charles Wheatstone and Sir William Fothergill Cooke which used the deflection of needles to represent messages and started operating over twenty-one kilometres (thirteen miles) in 1839. Before that, a very early experiment in electrical telegraphy was an ‘electrochemical’ telegraph created by the German physician, anatomist and inventor Samuel Thomas von Sommering in 1809, based on an earlier, less robust design of 1804 by Catalan Polymath and scientist Francisco Salva i Campillo. But their model are not good enough. It needs many cables and only able to reach a near distance. The first successful transatlantic telegraph cable was completed in 1866, allowing transatlantic telecommunication for the first time. Earlier transatlantic cables installed in 1857 and 1858 only operated for a few days or weeks before they failed.

Bell’s telephone

The conventional telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, based on his earlier work with harmonic (multi-signal) telegraphs. The first commercial telephone services were set up in 1878 and 1879 on both sides of the Atlantic in the cities of New Haven and London. Bell held the master patent for the telephone that was needed for such services in both countries. The technology grew quickly from this point, with inter-city lines being built and telephone exchanges in every major city of the United States by the mid-1880s. Despite this, transatlantic voice communication remained impossible for customers until January 7, 1927 when a connection was established using radio. However no cable connection existed until TAT-1 was inaugurated on September 25, 1956 providing 36 telephone circuits. In 1880, Bell and co-inventor Charles Summer Tainter conducted the world’s first wireless telephone call via modulated lightbeams projected by photophones. The scientific principles of their invention would not be utilized for several decades, when they were first deployed in military and fiber-optic communications.

Marconi’s Radio System

In 1893, Nikola Tesla described and demonstrated in detail the principles of wireless telegraphy. The apparatus that he used contained all the elements that were incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube. However it was not until 1900 that Reginald Fessenden was able to wirelessly transmit a human voice. In December 1901, Guglielmo Marconi established wireless communication between Britain and Newfoundland, earning him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 (which he shared with Karl Braun).

Farnsworth’s TV camera

On March 25, 1925, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird publicly demonstrated the transmission of moving silhouette pictures at the London department store Selfridges. However for most of the twentieth century televisions depended upon the cathode ray tube invented by Karl Braun. The first version of such a television to show promise was produced by Philo Farnsworth and crude silhouette images were demonstrated to his family on September 7, 1927. Farnsworth’s device would compete with the concurrent work of Kalman Tihanyi and Vladimir Zworykin. Zworykin’s camera, based on Tihanyi’s Radioskop, which later would be known as the Iconoscope. John Logie Baird switched from mechanical television and became a pioneer of colour television using cathode-ray tubes. Nowadays, after mid-century the spread of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay allowed television networks to spread across even large countries.

MarkI as The First Digital Computer

The first digital computer is invented by Howard Hathaway Aiken and named as Mark I. It has 2.4 m of height, 15.3 m of length, and 3 tons of weight. Beside that it needs 800 km cable and 3 million junction.

On September 11, 1940, George Stibitz was able to transmit problems using teletype to his Complex Number Calculator in New York and receive the computed results back at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. In 1960’s that researchers started to investigate packet switching — a technology that would allow chunks of data to be sent to different computers without first passing through a centralized mainframe. A four-node network emerged on December 5, 1969 between the University of California –  LA, Stanford Research Institute, University of Utah, and University of California-  Santa Barbara. This network would become ARPANET, which by 1981 would consist of 213 nodes. ARPANET development became bigger and bigger until it introduced Internet Protocol v4 (IPv4) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in September 1981. A more relaxed transport protocol that, unlike TCP, did not guarantee the orderly delivery of packets called the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) was submitted on August 1980. An e-mail protocol, SMTP, was introduced in August 1982 and http://1.0 (a protocol that would make the hyperlinked Internet possible) was introduced on May 1996.

The other important invention is came from Olof Soderblom who patented two popular link protocols; Local Area Networks (LANs) and Token Ring protocol on October 29, 1974. And a paper on the Ethernet protocol was published by Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs in July 1976.


Because of these histories, we are able to enjoy the magnificent telecommunication facilities. Even lately, internet grows very fast and become a lifestyle for many people around the world. Everybody needs to always “online” so they can communicate with their friends, families, or bussiness relatives anywhere and anytime.

Sony Ericsson T100

In Indonesia, before internet “hit the market”, cell phone became a “trend” first. As I remember, since year 2000 (a new millenium), many people have their own cell phone. Before that, only sort of people have it. Then it popular with a name “hand phone”. Quite funny right? Maybe only Indonesian who called cell phone as “hand phone” :D. And I was started to have my own cell phone when I graduated from junior high school in 2003. My parents gave it to me graduation gift, and my first cell phone Sony Ericsson T100 :p

Mobile Internet Service

In senior high school, I started to know about internet. Then it became more and more popular during 2003/2004. Only in a year, I could see many internet cafe was built everywhere especially in a place near school, campus, mall, etc. But only in 2 years since internet cafe’s bussiness was popular, a new internet market is introduced! A wireless internet service! We only need a USB modem, and plug it in to our laptop and VOILA! we get the access to internet! This potential market appeared because of the popularity of notebook computer which has been growth very fast.

Smartphones and Tablet PC

But nowadays, internet is growth as a hyper hormoned kid. People were not satisfied yet with notebook and USB modem, smart phone market became a huge hit until now! Blackberry, iPhone, and Android cell phones are very popular today. Beside that, a bigger version but still quite light is Tablet PC such as iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. This competition becomes very hot and interesting, even many people become “gadget freak”. They do not mind if they have to spend a lot of money to fulfil their desire to become the most modern people, the one who has the latest and the smartest gadget!

Thank you for reading my post, see you on my next articles 😉

Source :

  1. Telecommunication by Warren Hioki

About Pradini Puspitaningayu

a big, big, big dreamer

Posted on February 12, 2011, in Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. abis ini bikinlah microwave yang bisa nelpon din… xixixixi
    *bisa nelpon klo rotinya udah mateng maksudku :p

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