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How Digital Communications Changed Communications: Overview

Digital Communications: the timeline of modernization

(aka: the rise and fall of human interaction)

How has digital communications impacted the way in which we communicate?

In a word: entirely.

Since 1844, when Morse first demonstrated the electric telegraph, technology has unceasingly ignited development and change in the way the world communicates. In the first days of machine-based communication societies gained the ability to send, long-distance, a direct message that did not rely on a ship or a horse, and the able population discovered its first sense of connectivity.  When Alexander Graham Bell patented his idea for the first telephone in 1876 the world once again was transformed. By 1880 telephone operators, referred to “Hello Girls” connected the 30,00 telephone lines country-wide manually and by 1925 there were 12 million telephones were in use. The two-way radio technology of the 1940s first seen in police cars and taxi cabs, led to the invention of the mobile phone, first used by Swedish police in 1946. By 1967 cell phone technology was available for calls made within a singular cell area and in 1982, the FCC allocated frequencies allowing wide-range anoalog mobile phone service.

Digital service was introduced in 1990, which combined with the battery and computer chip technology that allowed cell phones to be much smaller and light-weight, ushered in a new generation of availability. Usage soared.

In the years following, digital technology has continually redefined the standards for communication seemingly daily. The introduction of facsimile (the fax machine) allowed documents to be sent instantly and email has further revolutionized the ability for immediate data sharing. As innovations have brought about faster network speeds and increased capabilities, “smartphones” have become the new normal, offering everything from email and internet browsing, to music downloading and live game interfacing with almost anyone connected worldwide. Text messages have become customary for quick contact and with the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010, video calling, pegged “FaceTime” by Apple, became as easy as a phone call.

(FaceTime with my cousin in California while in Europe)


Today, nearly 90 percent of American households have at least one cell phone and an increasing number are disconnecting their home landlines all together. Despite the widespread use and availability of mobile phones, users are calling less and texting more. In 2009, the amount of non call-related data (including text, email, music, etc) on mobile phones exceeded the used amount of voice data and the number of text messages sent in 2011 is expected to be more than 7 trillion leaving connectivity at an all-time high but allowing interaction to be kept at a minimum.



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