Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rant #830: Message In a Bottle

Well, not really.

But today is the 151st anniversary of the first transcontinental telegraph message.

On this date in 1861, Chief Justice Stephen J. Field of California sent a message from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln, who was in his office in Washington, D.C.

The line was built by Western Union Telegraph Company.

With the wonders of the Internet, we often forget that it took many, many baby steps to get there.

From smoke signals to instant messaging, there were lots of stops in between.

We had carrier pigeons, and, of course, sending a letter has been around forever, but later, we had the most important invention in communication, the telephone. People could talk one on one with each other, and actually hear their voice.

This was basically the way that most people communicated with others in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century.

But with the uptick in technology, today, the phone is almost inadequate, and that's why while we still communicate by phone, our phones can do so much more today.

Little could Lincoln and Field realize that their act set off a technological breakthrough in communication that continues to this day.

And as for Lincoln, the President that is perhaps best known for being our leader during the Civil War and freeing the slaves, as well as being gunned down by John Wilkes Booth, well, he was at the forefront of that era's technological boom.

You could say that if it wasn't for him getting Field's communication on the other side of the line, these other technological breakthroughs would not have happened ... or at least, would have been put off until this initial breakthrough was perfected.

So, while Lincoln was called "The Great Emancipator," he was also possibly the world's first tech geek too.

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