Communication through the Ages


Communication in the past was never easy; if you asked your parents or grandparents how they communicated with each other in the past, you will realize how difficult it was to call each other, or to send a letter to a relative living a bit far from them. Today, smartphones help us a lot to communicate easily with people around the globe, and access information whenever we need it.

I bet you are holding a smartphone now whilst reading this article or at least it is nearby. Smartphones enable us to make phone calls, send text messages, and if you are connected to the Internet, you can send messages through Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp; all messages reach their destination instantly. An English novelist once wrote: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. Let us see how communication methods of the present differ from those of the past, and try to figure out what the future holds for us.

Telephone (The Past)

It was a happy day for humanity when Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call ever to his assistant, saying: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you”. This phone call transformed the way we communicate today. At that time, the telegraph was the available means of communication; it was a good system, but it was quite limited, as you could only send one message at a time. Bell’s work to improve the telegraph system so that several messages could be sent at the same time led to the invention of the telephone.

He came up with the idea while trying to transfer speech through wires and experimented it with his assistant Thomas Watson. The idea of the telephone is based on a device to vary electric currents and a receiver to transform these currents into frequencies that could be heard. In other words, the telephone is a device that changes voice into electric currents that travel through the wire to reach its destination; those currents are transferred into speech. The birth of the telephone marked the end of the telegraph, as the telephone was more convenient.

Smartphone (The Present)

At the beginning, mobile phones were similar to landline telephones; the only difference is that mobile phones were wireless. The mobile phone concept is similar to that of a radio; first, the voice changes into electrical signals in your devices then is transformed into a radio wave. It reaches the cell tower then travels to reach another phone and changes back to sound.

With technology advances, the mobile phone has become a smartphone through which you can browse the Internet and look up information; ever since, life has tremendously differed. The revolution of smartphones has changed how people live. You do not have to send letters that take time to arrive; you can communicate easily and rapidly through E-mail, WhatsApp, or any other messaging applications. If you have a family member living abroad, you can communicate through video calls.

What is next? (The Future)

We do not know yet what will be next; it could be anything. There might be devices that allow us to communicate our thoughts without opening our mouths. If you think that this is too far-fetched, think again. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has recently announced that he is interested in creating devices that can be controlled by our thoughts. A brain–computer technology makes this possible, and is advancing fast.

Brain–computer interfaces establish a connection between your brain and external devices; those interfaces are either invasive or non-invasive. Non-invasive are the devices that you can wear, while invasive devices are those inserted in the brain to measure signals. Invasive devices are used for medical purposes in neurosurgery and are quite limited because of the risks. More companies are interested in using brain–computer interfaces for various purposes and the future of wearable devices that can be controlled by your thoughts.

Bell’s telephone has made communication and life so much easier, but smartphones have revolutionized the way we live. With every step we take toward the future, the past becomes more like a foreign country. The possibilities are limitless, we only have to wait and see.




Cover image by Freepik

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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