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Your smart phone charges are too high? Be glad you weren't born in the early days of communications

11/4/21 – We take rapid communication for granted with 5G cell phone service and high-speed Internet. But all technological marvels tend to have modest but ambitious beginnings.

The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid in 1858 by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, which was founded just for this project by businessman Cyrus West Field. The cable connected Newfoundland to Ireland and had a capacity of transmitting a few words per hour. The first official communication was a message in Morse code from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan. 

The cable broke down a few weeks later, and two more attempts were made to provide a successful, lasting connection, which was achieved in 1866. That’s when the speed improved to 6–8 words per minute. But this “faster” rate came at the high price of $10 per word for a 10-word minimum. $100 back then was about two months’ pay for a skilled laborer. The primary users were entities with big pockets, such as the British and American governments and large corporations.

In 1956, TAT-1, the first transatlantic telephone cable system with a total cable length of 326 nautical miles, had a capacity of 36 telephone channels. The inaugural call linked AT&T and FCC company officials in New York with officials in Ottawa and London. By 1976, cables carried 4,000 telephone channels, and in 1996 the capacity was 2 x 5 Gbit/s. Expanding exponentially, by 2001 the Atlantic VSNL (TGN) had a capacity of 2 x 2,520 Gbit/s.

Those early growth years of technology were essential to being where we are now, and yes, advances come with a heady price, but what we take for granted today would have long been considered totally unimaginable. 

Read 670 times Last modified on November 4, 2021