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The History of Electrical Communications

The complete history of communications dates back to prehistoric times when cavemen grunted sounds to each other, but that is not the beginning of the timeline we are concerned with on RF Cafe. Here it is the earliest use of electrical signals for transmitting data between two or more points either by conduction through cables or by radiation through the air. According to most accounts, Stephan Gray was the first, in 1729, to accomplish such a feat. From there we eventually got the telegraph, the telephone, and then radio and cellphones (which are, or course, themselves radios), and of course the Internet.

The table below summarizes many of the major technological advancements in the evolution of electrical communications.

YearFirst-Time EventPerson
1729Discovery that electricity can be transmittedStephan Gray
1746Electrometer measuring device inventedGralath
1831Electromechanical generator inventedMichael Faraday
1844Telegraph and Morse Code developedSamuel Morse
1847Boolean algebra developedGeorge Boole
1858Transatlantic cable laidCyrus Field
1876Bell telephone system established 
1895Photographic film developedEastman
1897Ship-to-shore wireless transmission demonstratedGuglielmo Marconi
1900Speech transmitted by wireless methodLandell de Moura
1901Transatlantic wireless message Spark-gap transmitter 
1904Crystal radio detector patentedJ.C. Bose
1915Transatlantic radio telegraphy message from the U.S. 
1917Electric wave filterCampbell
1920Commercial radio broadcast (KDKA, Pittsburgh, PA)
Superheterodyne circuit developed

Armstrong
1923Iconoscope television camera tube inventedZworykin
1929Kinescope (TV picture tube) inventedZworykin
1930radar system demonstratedBlair
1931Oscilloscope inventedAllen DuMont
1934Telecommunications Act of 1934 
1937Klystron tube developed 
1939Television broadcast by NBC 
1941FM broadcasting begins in United States 
1942Magnetic recording tape invented ENIAC electronic computer 
1948Transistor developed at Bell Labs 
1951UNIVAC 1 computer introduced 
1953Early laser demonstratedZeigler
1955Varactor diode developed 
1956Electronic movie camera (Bell and Howell) 
1957Sputnik satellite launched (Russian) 
1958Integrated circuit developed Stereo broadcasting 
1962Light-emitting diode (LED) introduced Telstar communication satellite 
1963Commercial mini-computer 
1966Magnetic bubble memory developedAndrew Bobeck
1970Arpanet introduced (early version of Internet)VP Algore
1971Microprocessor developed Hand-held calculator introduced 
1975Home video tape recorder introduced 
1977Fiber optic communications for regular telephone service 
1996Telecommunications Act of 1996 established 
1999RF Cafe establishedKirt Blattenberger
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About RF Cafe
Kirt Blattenberger - RF Cafe Webmaster
Copyright: 1996 - 2024
Webmaster:
    Kirt Blattenberger,
    BSEE - KB3UON

RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The Internet was still largely an unknown entity at the time and not much was available in the form of WYSIWYG ...

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