Electronic media exists today in many forms: radio, television, videotape, audiotape, telephone, telegraph, computer file, etc. In our exploration of the technologies that have led us from the spoken word to the word processor (we're almost there), I will discuss the forms of electronic media most relevant to the dissemination of writing. The seminal form of electronic communication was the telegraph, developed by Samuel Morse in 1834. It was so important that most electronic media today can be traced back to the telegraph. Communication by telegram afforded businesses a competitive edge- they could talk to other branches of their company almost instantly. The industrialization of the U.S.A. was dependent upon use of the telegraph.
In attempting to refine telegraph technology, Alexander Graham Bell discovered that he could broadcast his voice across a telegraph wire in 1876. Following Naisbitt's `path of least resistance'... Bell's telegraph research became what we now know as the telephone. This innovation was followed by other advances in electronic communication media: radio was introduced in 1895, television in 1927, early computers in 1942, the photocopy machine in 1946, the transistor in 1947, and ultimately the minicomputer of the 1960's, which exploited a technology called `integrated circuits' to downsize enormous computing machines to fit onto a desktop.
Between 1960 and 1980, computer based information systems evolved into practical resources for everyday use. Computer technology is advancing in every walk of life to the point which ``change is occurring so rapidly that there is no time to react.'' The desire to share information between computers has inspired both local and wide area networks. One such network is the Internet, a network of computer networks which connects the academic community through a common communications protocol. The Internet allows people to share files, text articles, and electronic mail, with two large... [continues]
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