The Information Age

Western Union Sends Last Telegram

On January 27, 2006 Western Union sent its last telegram.  The telegraph was most popular during the 1920s and 30s, but with Western Union sending its last message in 2006, it officially announced the end of telegraphs.

Source:  Robert Siegel, “Western Union Sends Its Last Telegram. National Public Radio”, (accessed September 21, 2011).
Image Source: “Western Union Telegram,” Eyes of the Army×320.jpg (accessed December 14, 2011).

Nikola Tesla Files A Patent For Radio

In 1897 Nikola Tesla filed a patent for radio. However, Guglielmo Marconi filed for a similar patent the year before.  Tesla gained the patent in 1900 but in 1904 The U.S. Patent office changed the patent and gave it to Marconi.  It was not until 1943 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Tesla was the true patent owner for radio.

For more milestones in the development of radio, see:

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Source:“Who Invented Radio?” (accessed Setember 21, 2011).

Image Source:

Invention of Morse Code

In 1843 Alfred Vos and Samuel Morse invented Morse Code as a way to better send information over telegraph.  Using a system of “dots” and “dashes” Morse Code quickly became the most effective way to send information using electricity.  Morse code is still used today in aspects like amateur and military radio communication.

This is what “UMW” looks like in Morse Code:

..- — .–

Here is a Morse Code translator, where you can translate Morse Code into sound.


Source: “Samuel F.B. Morse: Morse Code”, (accessed September 21, 2011).

First Electromagnet Goes Public

In 1825 William Sturgeon developed the first electromagnet which could hold more than its own weight.  Because of this invention, the first electric motor and the telegraph were able to come about later.


Source: Iwan Rhy Morus, 1988, “The Sociology of Sparks: An Episode in the History and Meaning of Electricity,” Social Studies of Science 18 (3): 387-417.

Image Source: “Sturgeon Electromagnet”, National Museum of American History, (accessed December 14, 2011).

Connection Between Magnetism and Electricity

In 1820 Hans Christian Ørsted realized a connection between electricity and magnetism by moving a compass needle with an electrical current.  This was an important development because it helped to set the stage for the electric telegraph.

Source:  Ker Than, “Hans Christian Orsted: Who He Was, and Why You Owe Him,”  National Geographic News, August 14, 2009, (accessed September 21, 2011).

Image Source: Illustration from Hulton Archive/Getty Images, accessed from

Semaphore Used

In France in 1792 Claude Chappe created the first semaphore (also called a Chappe Telegraph) to relay information across long distances using signals.  He developed this with his brothers and soon other countries and militaries used similar communicative strategies.  The weaknesses of the semaphore were the difficulty in sending messages at with low visibility.


Source:  Victor R. Jones,  “Chappe Telegraph System,” November 5, 2005, (accessed September 21, 2011).

Source: John Steele Gordon, 1993, “Technology of the future,” American Heritage 44, no. 6: 14, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 25, 2011).
Image Source: “The Chappe Telegraph Systems,” Harvard University (accessed December 14, 2011).


The First African-American Newspaper

Freedom’s Journal” published in New York by John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish became the first African-American newspaper in America. The paper consisted of four pages and the motto was “Righteousness Exalteth a Nation”. It was superseded by “The Rights of All” also published by Cornish.

Source: Jacqueline Bacon, The First African-American Newspaper: Freedom’s Journal (Lanham MD: Lexington Books, 2007), 39.

Image Source: Wisconsin Historical Society, “Freedoms Journal Volume 1,” African American Newspapers and Periodicals, (accessed October 10, 2011).

The Age of New Journalism

New journalism is a term given to a style of  journalism starting with the publication of “In Cold Blood” (1959) by Truman Capote. Other notable writers in this category include: Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson. The difference that marked this new form of journalism is that it was seldom found in newspapers but it was being published in magazines like “The New Yorker“, “The Atlantic Monthly“, and “Harper’s“.  The idea behind this movement was to borrow from fiction to sensationalize or embellish actual events.

 Truman Capote.


For more milestones in journalism, see:



Source:  MichaelWood, “Review of The New Journalism by Tom Wolfe,” New York Times, June 22, 1973, (accessed October 10, 2011).

Image Source: PBS, “Truman Capote,” American Masters, (accessed October 10, 2011).




First 4G/LTE Network Launches

Swedish mobile carrier TeliaSonera launched the world’s first 4G/LTE (Fourth Generation/Long Term Evolution) network in 2010, finally allowing wireless data speeds to match those of fiberoptic landline broadband speeds.  Speeds were tested at 100 MBps, but only have an actual user speed of around 15-25 MBps on a live network.  With speeds such as these real time social networking and data transmissions were possible, taking the idea of a telephone to a new level, making them true multitasking devices.
Image Source: “4G LTE,” Cellular Sales Blog, (accessed December 12, 2011).

World’s First 3G Network

Japanese company NTT DoCoMo launched the world’s first 3G network in Japan.  This allowed users to stream data and even make conference calls over a wireless network to a mobile device. In order to meet IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications Board) standards, a 3G network is required to offer at least 200KBps.

Two cell phone users making a video conference call

For other milestones in wireless telephone communication, see:
Source: CNN, “Verizon Launches First U.S. ‘3G’ Network,”, (accessed September 19, 2011).
Image Source: Shanghai Daily, “Video Conference Calling,” (accessed on Septermber 19, 2011).