The Evolution of Wireless

To build a house, builders must place one brick on top of another until the house is complete. In the same way, telecom was created with one idea built on the previous one to create the telecommunication “house” that exists today.

Telecommunication refers to communication at a distance. The term “telecom” is often used to refer to the telecommunications industry itself.

Telecommunication Before Electricity

Long before the discovery of electricity, ancient civilizations utilized primitive forms of telecommunication, such as fire signals, drumming, and relay messengers. For instance, during the siege at Troy, the Greek spy Sinon communicated using fire signals. Similarly, the Ming dynasty, the Romans and Egyptians employed various methods, including mirrors and messengers on foot or horseback, to transmit messages over long distances.

Other examples of telecommunication are relay messengers, mirrors, and chains. The Egyptians and Chinese sent messengers on foot and horseback. Tiberius, the Roman emperor who reigned from 14 to 37 A.D., used mirrors to communicate. During the Middle Ages, military men used chains to send signals down hilltops. And, according to the Scholarly Community Encyclopedia, during the Spanish Armada, a beacon chain sent a signal from Plymouth to London to communicate the arrival of the Spanish warships.

Telecommunication was not only used for military purposes, though. In Rabbinical Judaism, townspeople sent a signal by waving kerchiefs or flags to the high priest.

Believe it or not, all of these are forms of telecommunication, much like your cell phone sending and receiving text messages

Telecommunication Before Electricity

Telecommunication After Electricity

Modern telecom focuses on transmitting large volumes of information over long distances.“The basic components of a modern digital telecommunications system must be capable of transmitting voice, data, radio, and television signals,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

How did we get to transmit voice and, even, television signals?

Well, in 1809, German physician, anatomist and inventor Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring — who built his design based off an earlier one from 1804 by Spanish polymath and scientist Francisco Salva Campillo — used wires to convey latin letters and numerals electrically up to a few kilometers.

And, back in the United States, an American Scientist from upstate New York had started his scientific research into electromagnetism — which is the interaction of electric currents or fields and magnetic fields. Two years later, in 1829, Henry wound a metal horseshoe with insulated wire and showed how it had magnetic power. This research was the foundation for the telegraph.

In 1837, Samuel Morse, who was working on a telecommunications system, showed a version of the electrical telegraph. He was then joined by Alfred Vail, an American machinist and inventor. Together, they developed the register, which was a telegraph terminal that sent information across three miles (five kilometers) and eventually forty miles (sixty four kilometers) in 1844.

Based on later versions of the telegraph, the electric telephone was invented in the late 1870s. The first commercial telephone services were installed in 1878 and 1879 in New Haven in the U.S. and London in the U.K.

“As with other great inventions such as radio, television, the light bulb, and the digital computer, there were several inventors who did pioneering experimental work on voice transmission over a wire, who then improved on each other’s ideas. However, the key innovators were Alexander Graham Bell and Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who created the first telephone company, the Bell Telephone Company in the United States, which later evolved into American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), at times the world’s largest phone company.” – Scholarly Community Encyclopedia

After the telephone, more advanced electrical and electronic signals were invented.

In 1895, Gugliemo Marconi, Italian inventor and Nobel Prize winner for physics, constructed the world’s first tower to experiment with wireless telegraphy, forever revolutionizing the way we connect and communicate. In 1901 he set up a powerful transmitter in the U.K. and another one in Canada. The equipment transmitted electrical signals through the air across the Atlantic ocean. From that invention, he worked on shortwave wireless communication, which is the foundation for modern long-distance radio.

Indeed, between 1896 and 2003, there were countless innovations in the telecom industry based on the radio. These include the first wireless telegraphy, video telephony (which is live video and voice telecommunications), and satellite.

In 1969, the first computer network was created. It connected computers from four universities in the United States.

Although the internet had previous iterations dating back to the Cold War, 1983 is widely considered to be the official birthday of the internet. Ten years later, in 1993, the internet became available to the public. This connectivity paved the way for the first mobile phone and then internet phones.

Telecommunications After Electricity

What can we expect from telecommunication in the future?

The telecom industry is fascinating. What else is in store?

“Telecommunications have evolved and will continue to progress over time. Inventions that we can’t even fathom will be normal for future generations. We value the rich history that allowed our industry to evolve over time. We share the same passion for ingenuity and perseverance that our historical telecom legends had and continues to drive our impact to the industry today,” says Guglielmo Noya, Regional Vice President of LATAM.

“Now with A.I., 6G, extraterrestrial seamless connectivity, quantum computing, and beyond we are at the brink of a new era of increased connectivity. Telecom and technology will bring information, resources, and solutions to every corner of the world,” he adds.