Getting the Message: A History of Communications / Edition 1

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The past century has seen developments in communications technology that rival those in any other field of human activity. Significant advances are made every year, and the impact on our day-to-day lives has been tremendous. Getting the message explores the fascinating history of communications, starting with ancient civilizations, the Greeks and Romans, then leading through the development of the electric telegraph, and up to the present day with e-mail and cellular phones. In clear, non-technical language the book explains the details of each new development while interweaving ideas from politics, economics, and cultural history. The book concludes with a look at the possible future developments and how they may further transform how we live. Lavishly illustrated and including many original illustrations, the book is an informative and highly entertaining guide to this lively field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Solymar's interesting and timely history of communications from biblical times to the cell phone text is aimed at the layperson. ... In short, it's the type of text that should be read by all my students and by anyone who works in the computer or telecommunications industry."—Annals of the History of Computing
A lively history of the development of communications technology. Beginning with ancient civilizations, Solymar (engineering science, U. of Oxford, England) covers developments from the electric telegraph to the present day's email and cellular phones. The technology is explained clearly and simply, with politics, economics, and social developments explained throughout. The conclusion evaluates possible future communications developments and their implications on our daily lives. Charmingly illustrated in b&w with advertisements, photographs, cartoons, and maps. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Words like "digital" and "bandwith" have acquired pop-culture cachet, and Lazlo Solymar, Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford, explains what they and their ilk actually mean, offering, in Getting the Message, a charming and lucid overview of the development of the science and engineering of point-to-point long-distance, and signalling systems. A hybrid of coffee-table book, popular science and labour of love, it explains the technical foundations of wired and wireless means of communication, from the telegraph through to the Internet. Solymar has plenty of good stories to tell, a sense of whimsy and an insider's perspective.
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198503330
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Oxford
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Table of Contents

Figure acknowledgements
PART I: The first thirty-six centuries
1. Introduction
2. The beginnings of communications
3. The mechanical telegraph
PART II: The beginning of electrical communications
4. The electrical telegraph
5. The telephone
6. Wireless telegraphy
7. The telephone revisited
PART III: The modern age
8. The communications revolution
9. Microwaves
10. The solid state revolution
11. Digitalization
12. Optical communications
13. Deregulation and privatization
14. Mobile communications
15. The fax machine
16. The communications-computing symbiosis
17. The future
Appendix: The mechanical telegraph in other countries

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