Can you name a few means of communication?

  1. Internet

  2. Telephone

  3. Mobile Phones

  4. Letters

  5. Newspapers

  6. TV/Radio

Internet became popular in the 1990s and before that, the telephone was the most popular means of communication in reaching out to friends and family living in a different place. The telephone was invented in 1876 and pony express, pigeon post, messengers delivering messages on foot or horseback were popular means of communication.

Thousands of years ago, men used pictures or symbols to communicate. These symbols were drawn on walls of caves using sharpened stone tools and depicted a wide range of activities including planting crops, hunting victories etc. The Chauvet cave in southern France is one of oldest known cave paintings and depicts pictures of hundreds of animals. The next step in communication was in the form of carvings on rock surface and was known as Petroglyphs. The Petroglyphs later evolved to pictograms. The petroglyphs simply portrayed a particular incident or a particular event while a pictogram conveyed the entire series of the events in a chronological order. From pictograms were developed ideograms, graphical symbols that depicted an idea. A pictogram could only represent a form but not abstract forms. For example, the pictogram of a circle would represent a sun but could not represent heat, light etc. An ideogram of an eye with a tear would depict sadness.

Smoke signals were also another way to communicate. They were used to send messages to people or tribes that dint live closely. Drums were another important means. The patterns in drumming used to be altered depending on the type and importance of the event.

With time symbols were developed from drawings and these symbols were used to form words and sentences. These were written on blocks of clay or clay tablets which could be carried from one place to another. Merchants used these tablets to record the quantity of materials that were being traded. The current alphabets we use became popular during 600 BC and the Greek were the first people to develop a script that was written from left to right. The earliest means of writing, closest to present day's pen and paper was also developed by the Greek. They used a stylus made of bone, or metal or ivory to write on wax coated tablets. The Chinese invented the first ink called 'Indian ink' and later different countries/cultures developed their own style of inks using natural dyes. During the same time, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans developed to Papyrus rolls to write on it. The quill pen, a pen made from the feathers of birds like quills, swans, crows, owls etc dominated the writing scene for a long time. Human messengers were used to deliver these messages written using quill pens and papers.

In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Before Gutenberg, the material that needed to be printed had to be carved on metal, wood or stone and then rolled with ink which was transferred onto parchments using pressure and books had to be hand-copied. The printing press spread rapidly all over Europe and saw a lot of changes and developments eventually. The London Gazette was the first English Newspaper printed and in 1738 AD, the first daily newspaper Pennsylvania Evening Post was started. The discovery of electro magnetism and the inventions of electricity revolutionized the communications industry by paving way for the telegraph, telephone , radio and eventually mobile phones and the internet which have become an essential part of the common man's life today.

The last century has witnessed tremendous innovations in the telecommunications industry. What new inventions do you think would come up in the next 100 years?