invention of the telegraph

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Victorian Internet by Tom Standage


British Empire, financial independence, global village, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, paper trading, QWERTY keyboard, technoutopianism

Impressed by what he later described as Cooke's "zeal, ability and perseverance," Wheatstone eventually agreed to a partnership, on the rather childish condition that his name would go first on the documentation. This sort of behavior was typical of Wheatstone, who was a somewhat prickly character, and whose relationship with Cooke was always highly precarious. Ry turns painfully shy and incurably arrogant, Wheatstone insisted on referring to the invention of the telegraph in the first person singular and claiming all the scientific credit for himself, as though Cooke were nothing more than a business associate whom he had engaged to promote his invention. But even though they didn't get on personally, the two men's professional relationship was productive: They had soon devised and patented an improved five-needle telegraph. Each needle could be deflected to the left or right to pick out numbers and letters on a diamond-shaped grid, so there was no need to learn which combination corresponded to which letter.

The story goes that when some of the connecting wires broke, preventing three of the five needles from working, the operators quickly improvised a new code, based on multiple wiggles, which only required two needles. At any rate, Cooke and Wheatstone soon realized there was no need for all five, which meant that subsequent installations would require fewer wires and would be much cheaper. But the personal rivalry between the two men over which of them was principally responsible for the invention of the telegraph had, by this time, resurfaced. They eventually decided upon a gentlemanly way to resolve the matter: They appointed a panel of two mutual friends to act as arbitrators and agreed to be bound by their decision. In April 1841, the arbitrators came up with an artful compromise acceptable to both sides: "Whilst Mr. Cooke is entitled to stand alone, as the gentleman to whom this country is indebted for having practically introduced and carried out the electric telegraph as a useful undertaking, Professor Wheatstone is acknowledged as the scientific man whose profound and successful researches have already prepared the public to receive it as a project capable of practical application."

With the telegraph's ability to destroy distance, it provided plenty of scope for exploiting information imbal­ances: situations where financial advantage can be gained in one place from exclusive ownership of privileged information that is widely known in another place. A classic example is horse racing. The result of a race is known at the racetrack as soon as it is declared, but before the invention of the telegraph, the information could take hours or even days to reach the bookmakers in other parts of the country. Anyone in possession of the results of a horse race before the news reached the bookmakers could then place a surefire bet on the winning horse. Almost immediately, rules were introduced to disallow the transmission of such information by telegraph; but, as is often the case with attempts to regulate new technologies, the criminals tended to be one step ahead of those making the rules.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser,, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

Just as the country-to-town migration in Britain reduced the standard of living of the average worker during 1800–1830, so the urbanization of America after 1870 also reduced the average standard of living of working-class Americans.6 THE GOLDEN SPIKE AS A SYMBOL OF AMERICA IN 1870 A quintessential symbol of the American advance and future promise is captured by the 1869 hammering of the golden spike that united the transcontinental railway. This story combines the British invention of the railroad, rapidly adapted to the much larger land mass of the United States, with the American invention of the telegraph.7 The event happened at noon on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah. That moment was a pivotal episode in world history as Leland Stanford pounded a golden spike with a silver hammer and in an instant ended the isolation of California and the Great West from the eastern half of the United States. Just as important, symbolizing the revolutionary increase in the speed of communication achieved by the 1844 invention of the telegraph and first 1858 undersea ocean telegraphic cable, the famous message “DONE!” was transmitted within a second to the entire United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.8 This was the first time that news of an epochal event had been greeted with such celebration by so many people at the same time: Across the nation, bells pealed.

The importance of the horse became apparent when in the fall of 1872 horses in cities throughout the northeast caught a virulent strain of horse flu and could not be used for work: City life came to a standstill … Streetcar companies suspended service, undelivered freight accumulated at wharves and railroad depots, consumers lacked milk, ice, and groceries, saloons lacked beer, work halted at construction sites, brickyards, and factories, and city governments curtailed fire protection and garbage collection.53 A full century after James Watt’s steam engine, why were cities so dependent on horses rather than steam-powered devices? Disadvantages of steam engines within the narrow confines of cities included the ever-present danger of fires started by sparks, their acrid black smoke, their deafening noise, and their heavy weight, which cracked street pavements. LEISURE, FROM NEWSPAPERS TO SALOONS By 1870, the American invention of the telegraph had announced the joining together of the transcontinental railway, had in 1861 made the Pony Express obsolete, and had allowed local print newspapers to report the events of national and world affairs on the day that they happened, including daily chronicles of carnage in the Civil War. The great surge of popular journalism in the late nineteenth century had not yet arrived, and in 1870 relatively few people read newspapers.

The rotary dial phone and automatic switch were invented and patented as early as 1892 but were not introduced into service by AT&T until 1919, being “resisted by Bell leadership.”29 Progress was also slow in extending the reach of the telephone across the nation. The first long-distance calls between New York and Chicago did not occur until 1892, nor the first between New York and San Francisco until 1915. That thirty-nine-year gap between the initial invention and transcontinental service was more than twice as long as the seventeen-year gap between the 1844 invention of the telegraph and the 1861 completion of the transcontinental telegraph. The varying growth rate of subscribers is evident in figure 6–4, later this chapter. Growth accelerated between 1893 and 1908 after the expiration of the original Bell patents with the emergence of independent companies. In the fifteen years after 1894, price competition pushed the annual rates for Bell residential service down by two-thirds.30 By 1907, the independent companies accounted for almost half the telephones in the United States, but five years later, the Bell companies controlled 85 percent of the telephones either directly or through sublicense agreements.


pages: 566 words: 122,184

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold


Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Eratosthenes, Grace Hopper, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, millennium bug, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, popular electronics, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

In the same way that Morse code reduces written language to dots and dashes, the spoken version of the code reduces speech to just two vowel sounds. The key word here is two. Two types of blinks, two vowel sounds, two different anything, really, can with suitable combinations convey all types of information. Chapter 2. Codes and Combinations Morse code was invented by Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791–1872), whom we shall meet more properly later in this book. The invention of Morse code goes hand in hand with the invention of the telegraph, which we'll also examine in more detail. Just as Morse code provides a good introduction to the nature of codes, the telegraph provides a good introduction to the hardware of the computer. Most people find Morse code easier to send than to receive. Even if you don't have Morse code memorized, you can simply use this table, conveniently arranged in alphabetical order: Receiving Morse code and translating it back into words is considerably harder and more time consuming than sending because you must work backward to figure out the letter that corresponds to a particular coded sequence of dots and dashes.

Morse learned how to make daguerreotype photographs from Louis Daguerre himself and made some of the first daguerreotypes in America. In 1840, he taught the process to the 17-year-old Mathew Brady, who with his colleagues would be responsible for creating the most memorable photographs of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and Samuel Morse himself. But these are just footnotes to an eclectic career. Samuel F. B. Morse is best known these days for his invention of the telegraph and the code that bears his name. The instantaneous worldwide communication we've become accustomed to is a relatively recent development. In the early 1800s, you could communicate instantly and you could communicate over long distances, but you couldn't do both at the same time. Instantaneous communication was limited to as far as your voice could carry (no amplification available) or as far as the eye could see (aided perhaps by a telescope).

The key, the sounder, a battery, and some wires can be connected just like the lightbulb telegraph in the preceding chapter: As we discovered, you don't need two wires connecting the two telegraph stations. One wire will suffice if the earth provides the other half of the circuit. As we did in the previous chapter, we can replace the battery connected to the ground with a capital V. So the complete one-way setup looks something like this: Two-way communication simply requires another key and sender. This is similar to what we did in the preceding chapter. The invention of the telegraph truly marks the beginning of modern communication. For the first time, people were able to communicate further than the eye could see or the ear could hear and faster than a horse could gallop. That this invention used a binary code is all the more intriguing. In later forms of electrical and wireless communication, including the telephone, radio, and television, binary codes were abandoned, only to later make an appearance in computers, compact discs, digital videodiscs, digital satellite television broadcasting, and high-definition TV.


pages: 123 words: 32,382

Grouped: How Small Groups of Friends Are the Key to Influence on the Social Web by Paul Adams


Airbnb, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, information retrieval, invention of the telegraph, planetary scale, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, sentiment analysis, social web, statistical model, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application, white flight

Much of our behavior is based on adaptations that took many thousands of years to evolve, and these behavior patterns are not going to change much in our lifetime. Instead, those who are successful with the social web today focus less on the technology itself and more on the communication and interaction it enables with the people they care about. This includes a group size that is hard-wired into our brains by evolution (as you’ll see in Chapter 3). Despite huge advances in communication technology over the past 200 years—for example, the invention of the telegraph, telephone, mobile phone, text messaging, instant messaging, and video calling—our social network structure has largely stayed the same. Our modern communications structure allows us to connect to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, yet we still have a very small number of close friends. Despite the ability of digital communications to connect any two groups of people together, our groups of friends remain independent from each other.


pages: 501 words: 145,097

The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester


British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, distributed generation, Donner party, estate planning, Etonian, full employment, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, James Watt: steam engine, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Plutocrats, plutocrats, transcontinental railway, Works Progress Administration

The wire up above them looked so modest and innocent and incapable. It was just a wire. It didn’t move, except when the wind made it vibrate and send out a plangent whistling, somewhat akin to the grass on the plains when the breezes ruffle it like the sea, and it bends and waves and seems to sigh. The all-too-rapid changes afflicting some quarters of American society brought about by the invention of the telegraph were famously caught by the Cincinnati artist Henry Farny in his 1904 painting Song of the Talking Wire, in which a puzzled Plains Indian tries to listen to the conversation supposedly passing overhead. There was something odd about the metal wire. It had to do with movement. Things that shifted their ways along roads and canals and railways and even through the air above—eagles, for instance—could be seen to proceed from place to place.

There is what one might term an NPR culture in the country: decisions are often made, conversations are often begun, conferences often commenced, with a simple commonly heard phrase: I heard it on Morning Edition, or more simply, I heard it on NPR. Despite reaching fewer than one in ten of the American public, NPR seems sometimes, in terms of its influence, to be just about everywhere. But can NPR be fairly said to have unified the nation? Did it—indeed, does it today—help connect the people of America in the way that the invention of the telegraph, the laying of the railroad tracks, or the making the Interstate Highway System so unequivocally managed to do? Was that ever the intent of its creators? Was NPR devised to be both a national bulletin board and a social sounding board—or was it to be something with rather more strength, an entity of great size and power that could employ the metaphor of being a network to help link the nation together by an invisible skein of radio waves, and thus forge a bond quite as strong and enduring as any railroad line, telegraph wire, or highway vanishing over the horizon to the mountains?


pages: 236 words: 66,081

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky


Andrew Keen, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, citizen journalism, corporate social responsibility, Dean Kamen, experimental economics, experimental subject, fundamental attribution error, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, Kevin Kelly, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, social software, Steve Ballmer, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, ultimatum game

The opportunity we collectively share, though, is much larger than even a book’s worth of examples can express, because those examples, and especially the ones that involve significant cultural disruption, could turn out to be special cases. As with previous revolutions driven by technology—whether it is the rise of literate and scientific culture with the spread of the printing press or the economic and social globalization that followed the invention of the telegraph—what matters now is not the new capabilities we have, but how we turn those capabilities, both technical and social, into opportunities. The question we now face, all of us who have access to new models of sharing, is what we’ll do with those opportunities. The question will be answered much more decisively by the opportunities we provide for one another and by the culture of the groups we form than by any particular technology.


pages: 369 words: 80,355

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger


airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, Debian, double entry bookkeeping, double helix,, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of journalism, Galaxy Zoo, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, linked data, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pluto: dwarf planet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, slashdot, social graph, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

Even in scientific disciplines that are more theoretical or observational than experimental—evolutionary biology, for example—science has been a careful and conservative practice, patiently trying to tie facts together into theories that make sense of them. That is an excellent strategy. But in some of the most important fields it’s failing to scale. There is now more data than Darwin could have imagined. For example, both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington recorded daily weather observations, but they didn’t record them hourly or by the minute. Not only did they have other things to do, such data didn’t seem useful. Even after the invention of the telegraph enabled the centralization of weather data, the 150 volunteers who received weather instruments from the Smithsonian Institution in 1849 still reported only once a day.3 Now there is a literally immeasurable, continuous stream of climate data from satellites circling the earth, buoys bobbing in the ocean, and wi-fi-enabled sensors in the rain forest.4 We are measuring temperatures, rainfall, wind speeds, CO2 levels, and pressure pulses of solar wind.


pages: 242 words: 68,019

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

However, the change in communication technologies has been mostly qualitative. To estimate the change in costs fairly, we would need to know how much a late nineteenth-century industrialist would pay for asynchronous technologies such as email, or for a simple Skype call. And it is interesting to note that, as James Gleick describes beautifully in The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (New York: Pantheon, 2011), the French invention of the telegraph was based on contraptions whose arm positions were used to transmit information. This mechanical telegraph long predated the electric telegraph that we are more familiar with, and which became the standard image that comes to mind when using the word. 15. Coase, “The Institutional Structure of Production,” highlights the standardization role of money as its most fundamental yet overlooked property. 16.


pages: 272 words: 76,089

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus

However, for the great majority of eighteenth-century Chinese, Europeans could not have been more exotic had they lived on the Moon, and vice versa. The real binding up and deprovincial-ization of the planet requires a technology that communicates much faster than horse or sailing ship, that conveys information all over the world, and that is cheap enough to be available, at least occasionally, to the average person. Such a technology began with the invention of the telegraph and the laying of submarine cables; was greatly expanded by the invention of the telephone, using the same cables; and then enormously proliferated with the invention of radio, television, and satellite communications technology. Today we communicate—routinely, casually, with hardly ever a second thought—at the speed of light. From the speed of horse or sailing ship to the speed of light is an improvement by a factor of almost a hundred million.


pages: 336 words: 92,056

The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution by Henry Schlesinger


Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, British Empire, Copley Medal, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Livingstone, I presume, Menlo Park, popular electronics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, Yogi Berra

So, it was in communication—the telegraph—that electrical power found its first widespread application. 6 What Hath God Wrought? “You can’t throw too much style into a miracle. It costs trouble, and work, and sometimes money; but it pays in the end.” —Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court As the history book legends have it, Samuel Finley Breese Morse defied all doubters and stretched the boundaries of technology with his invention of the telegraph and the code that went with it. It was Morse, or so we are taught, who led the charge in the conquest of distance and united America from coast to coast with the humming, pulsing wires of his invention. What the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes described as “…a network of iron nerves which flash sensation and volition backward and forward to and from towns and provinces as if they were organs and limbs of a single living body.”


pages: 313 words: 95,077

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky


Andrew Keen, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle,, crowdsourcing,, hiring and firing, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, Internet Archive, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, Kuiper Belt, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Merlin Mann, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, Picturephone, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, prediction markets, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Yogi Berra

The predicted end point of this process was a progressive disassociation of social life from real space, leading to the death of cities as the population spread out to more bucolic spots. The assumption that communications tools are (or will someday be) a good substitute for travel assumes that people mainly gather together for utilitarian reasons of sharing information. Companies have been selling us this idea since the invention of the telegraph, and AT&T’s famous Picturephone, first launched at the 1964 World’s Fair, was pitched as a way to reduce the need for travel. This reduction did not happen, not in 1964 or ever. If communication were a substitute for travel, then the effects would have shown up by now, but they haven’t. In 1978 President Carter deregulated the airlines, causing travel prices to fall, but telecommunications stocks didn’t collapse; they rose.


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition,, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

Cuneiform tablets dating back to 2000 BC have been found inscribed with a simple form of musical notation, featuring notes arranged according to what we now call the diatonic scale. Once again, music appears to leap ahead of where it should logically be on the hierarchy of needs. In 2000 BC, most human settlements around the world hadn’t invented a notation system for language yet. And yet somehow the ancient Sumerians were already composing scores. Rhythm, too, can function as a kind of informational code, as Samuel Morse discovered in the invention of the telegraph. The very first long-distance wireless networks were the “talking drums” of West Africa, percussive instruments that were tuned to mimic the pitch contours of African languages. Complex messages warning of impending invasions, or sharing news and gossip about deaths or marriage ceremonies, could be conveyed at close to the speed of sound across dozens of miles, through relays of drummers situated in each village.


Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson


Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, linked data, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

New technologies and ideas are nearly always resisted at first; the stronger or more disruptive the idea, the more resistance there will be at both a direct level (physical actions) and indirect level through the creation of myths. The cellphone, for example, is one of the most successful innovations of recent times and yet its ubiquity has done little to dispel safety fears surrounding its use. Similarly, the invention of the telegraph created a widespread belief that signals would interfere with the weather, while the introduction of trains and automobiles was predicted to create a variety of physical and mental disorders. I was talking to an 86-year-old man recently about cellphone masts and he pointed out that exactly the same objections were raised when lamp-posts were first introduced. Too much information In my experience, the nostalgia bug tends to kick in around the age of 40.


pages: 383 words: 81,118

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans, Richard Schmalensee


Airbnb, big-box store, business process, cashless society, Deng Xiaoping, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jean Tirole, Lyft, M-Pesa, market friction, market microstructure, mobile money, multi-sided market, Network effects, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, Victor Gruen, winner-take-all economy

Déjà Vu In 2015, billions of people worldwide are using messaging apps to communicate instead of making phone calls or sending e-mails or text messages. WeChat and WhatsApp are two of the largest messaging apps. These two-sided platforms rely on smartphones to connect senders and receivers of messages. People can also use them to send and receive money. They are very convenient. But they seem like small advances and not that novel, when you look at some older two-sided platforms. In 1832, with the invention of the telegraph, it became possible to send messages over long distances very quickly. For thousands of years, it had taken about a day to transmit a message or carry money a hundred miles. That’s how far one could go in a day on horseback.13 The telegraph wasn’t as quick as a phone call or e-mail because people had to get to telegraph stations and attendants had to code and decode their messages. But it did reduce the time to communicate over long distances to a miniscule fraction of what it had been.


pages: 606 words: 87,358

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin


3D printing, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, buy low sell high, call centre, Columbian Exchange, Commodity Super-Cycle, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, domestication of the camel, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial intermediation, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Henri Poincaré, imperial preference, industrial robot, invention of agriculture, invention of the telegraph, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Dyson, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fragmentation, New Economic Geography, out of africa, paper trading, Pax Mongolica, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus

Along with the lower cost of shipping goods, faster and safer transportation meant lower costs of moving people and ideas. People could and did migrate in massive numbers. But travel was incredibly slow, risky, and expensive. For example, most European and Asians who moved to the New World never saw their homelands again. Most ideas moved in the old way—via books and experts—but this period did see a real change with the invention of the telegraph. By the late 1800s, most nations were connected by telegraph lines. Goods and people still had to travel by boat, rail, or road, but now ideas could travel by wire. The telegraph had enormous effects on societies, but it did little to challenge the locality of most know-how. Long-distance communication remained extremely expensive—especially internationally. The word “telegraphic” was invented to describe the way people compacted thoughts in an effort to limit the number of words in a telegram.


pages: 407 words: 114,478

The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio by William J. Bernstein


asset allocation, Bretton Woods, British Empire, buy low sell high, carried interest, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, German hyperinflation, high net worth, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, index fund, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market bubble, mental accounting, mortgage debt, new economy, pattern recognition, quantitative easing, railway mania, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, South Sea Bubble, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, yield curve

No human being, no manufactured item, no bushel of wheat, no side of beef, no letter, no information, no idea, order or instruction of any kind moved faster. Nothing had moved any faster, and, as far as Jefferson’s contemporaries were able to tell, nothing ever would. The revolution in communication was even more dramatic. For most of recorded history, information traveled as slowly as physical goods. With the invention of the telegraph by Cooke and Wheatstone in 1837, instantaneous telegraphy abruptly changed the face of economic, military, and political affairs in ways that can scarcely be comprehended by even our modern technologically jaded sensibilities. It is humbling to realize that the news of Grover Cleveland’s election in 1884 traveled from New York to San Francisco and London almost as quickly as it would today.


pages: 374 words: 114,600

The Quants by Scott Patterson


Albert Einstein, asset allocation, automated trading system, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, centralized clearinghouse, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haight Ashbury, index fund, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Nash: game theory, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, merger arbitrage, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Lévy, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, statistical arbitrage, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Predators' Ball, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, volatility smile, yield curve, éminence grise

It involves buying an asset in one market and almost simultaneously selling that asset, or its near equivalent, in another. Say gold is trading for $1,000 in New York and $1,050 in London. A fleet-footed arbitrageur will buy that New York gold and sell it in London (instantaneously), pocketing the $50 difference. While this was difficult when traders were swapping stocks beneath a buttonwood tree on Wall Street in the eighteenth century, the invention of the telegraph—and the telephone, the high-speed modem, and a grid of orbiting satellites—has made it much easier to accomplish in modern times. Such obvious discrepancies in practice are rare and are often hidden in the depths of the financial markets like gold nuggets in a block of ore. That’s where the quants, the math whizzes, step in. Behind the practice of arbitrage is the law of one price (LOP), which states that a single price should apply to gold in New York as in London, or anywhere else for that matter.


pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin


banking crisis, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, cashless society, collective bargaining, computer age, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, general-purpose programming language, George Gilder, global village, hiring and firing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, pink-collar, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, Thorstein Veblen, Toyota Production System, trade route, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

When the Western Railroad experienced a Post-Fordism 93 series of accidents on its Hudson River rail, culminating in a head-on crash on October 4, 1841, that killed a passenger and conductor, the company responded to the growing safety problem by instituting elaborate changes in its organizational management, including a more systematic process of data collection from its roadmasters and faster dissemination of vital scheduling information to its train crews. The innovations in management, says historian Alfred Chandler, made Western Railroad "the first modem, carefully defined, internal organizational structure used by American business enterprise."lO The invention of the telegraph in 1844 greatly facilitated communications, allowing the railroads to expand across the continent. Together, the rail and telegraph provided the critical transportation and communication infrastructure to serve a national market stretching some 3,000 miles. To meet the needs of this new market, other businesses began to adopt their own increasingly sophisticated managerial schemes. By the time Alfred Sloan of General Motors introduced the multidivisional organizational model in the 1920S, the modem managerial corporation had grown to maturity and was the driving force behind the American economy.


pages: 587 words: 117,894

Cybersecurity: What Everyone Needs to Know by P. W. Singer, Allan Friedman


4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blood diamonds, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business continuity plan, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Edward Snowden, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fault tolerance, global supply chain, Google Earth, Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, M-Pesa, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, packet switching, Peace of Westphalia, pre–internet, profit motive, RAND corporation, ransomware, RFC: Request For Comment, risk tolerance, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, uranium enrichment, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day

But before they could type the “g” in the word “log,” the computer at the Stanford end of the network crashed. However, the ARPANET project, so named as it was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), would eventually transform how computers shared data and, with that, everything else. Electronic communication networks have been shaping how we share information since the invention of the telegraph, the device that some now look back on and call the “Victorian Internet.” The hype around that old technology were similarly high; contemporaries declared that, with the telegraph, “It is impossible that old prejudices and hostilities should longer exist.” What makes the Internet distinct from prior communication networks like the old telegraphs and then telephone networks, however, is that it is packet-switched instead of circuit-switched.


Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing


Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve

Furthermore, many governments loosened restrictions on corporate formation at this time, making it easier for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses; these new businesses, then, issued debt or equity for the first time, further fueling financial markets.76 As a result of these changes, the combined capitalization of these enterprises exceeded the gross debt of nations for the first time in the early twentieth century.77 Technology also played a vital role in the continued evolution of public capital markets. The most influential technologies were those that affected the spread of information, given the importance of accurate data in making financial decisions. The first in a series of such inventions came in 1844 with the invention of the telegraph, which allowed relatively convenient and immediate communication among markets and cities. In 1866, the first transatlantic cable was completed, allowing near-instantaneous communication between the key global financial centers of London and New York. The next year, the stock 90 Investment: A History ticker was introduced. This specialized telegraph receiver, invented by Edward Calahan in 1863, printed stock symbols and prices on a paper tape, providing a mode of communicating financial data even more conveniently than the telegraph.


pages: 782 words: 245,875

The Power Makers by Maury Klein


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, British Empire, business climate, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, margin call, Menlo Park, price stability, railway mania, the scientific method, trade route, transcontinental railway, working poor

A decade after the creation of Western Union, the telephone arrived and launched the next phase of the communication revolution. By then Maxwell had published his brilliant theories on electricity and the quest for an incandescent lightbulb was under way. As for Morse, like other inventors he had to endure years of litigation challenging his patent. In all he defended no fewer than fifteen suits. The worst of them revolved around an ugly wrangle with Joseph Henry over the latter’s role in the invention of the telegraph. Despite these troubles, Morse lived long enough to gain both fortune and fame at home and abroad. He married his deaf cousin, Sarah Griswold, in 1848, had three more children, and raised them on a hundred-acre farm he bought near Poughkeepsie, New York. On a trip to Europe in 1856 he made a pilgrimage to the laboratory of Hans Oersted and sat reverently in the inventor’s chair. Afterward, at the Porcelain Museum, he bought a bust of Oersted and happened to meet the great man’s daughter.


pages: 1,088 words: 297,362

The London Compendium by Ed Glinert


1960s counterculture, anti-communist, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, Corn Laws, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Exxon Valdez, hiring and firing, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, Nick Leeson, price stability, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, the market place, trade route, union organizing, V2 rocket

By the beginning of the twenty-first century Admiralty House was being used as their residence by various MPs, including John Prescott, deputy prime minister, whose tenure was marred by blown fuses, exploding lights and faulty microwave ovens courtesy of the property’s antiquated electrics. Old Admiralty Long-time home to the Navy, the building was designed by Thomas Ripley in the 1720s to replace a Christopher Wren block that had been constructed only twenty-five years previously and is shielded from Whitehall by Robert Adam’s Admiralty Screen of 1759–61. Before the invention of the telegraph the Admiralty was equipped with rooftop semaphore, and when the British general Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, a defeat which hastened the end of the American War of Independence, news was sent across the Atlantic, received in Britain at Falmouth, and dispatched to the Admiralty, from where it was sent by semaphore to Lord Germain’s house on Pall Mall, Germain then speeding off to 10 Downing Street to inform the prime minister, Lord North.