Telecommunications

First Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph Service

October 17, 1907

Guglielmo Marconi officially opens the first commercial transatlantic wireless telegraph service, which runs between Nova Scotia and Ireland.

Cellular Goes Live in US

First Cellular Network Launches in USOctober 13, 1983

Ameritech Mobile Communications executive Bob Barnett makes a phone call from a car parked near Soldier Field in Chicago, officially launching the first cellular network in the United States.

First Phone Call Over Outdoor Wires

First Long Distance CallOctober 9, 1876

Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson demonstrate the first two-way phone call over outdoor wires. Bell and Watson made their call between the cities of Boston and Cambridge.

CompuServe Launches MicroNET

CompuServe and MicroNETSeptember 24, 1979

CompuServe launches the first consumer-oriented online information service, which they called MicroNET. This marked the first time a consumer had access to services such as e-mail. The service was not favored internally within the business-oriented CompuServe, but as the service became a hit, they renamed the service CompuServe Information Service, or CIS. By the mid-1980’s CompuServe was the largest consumer information service in the world and half their revenue came from CIS. In 1989 CompuServe connected its proprietary e-mail system to the Internet e-mail system, making it one of the first commercial Internet services. However, CompuServe did not compete well with America On-Line or independent Internet Service Providers in the 1990’s and lost its dominant market position.

The First Android Introduced

T-Mobile G1September 23, 2008

Google and T-Mobile introduce the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream), the world’s first Android-based smartphone. By raw sales numbers, today Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform.

First Commercial Telegram Sent Around the World

Times SquareAugust 20, 1911

The New York Times sends a telegram message to test how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world. Reading simply, “This message sent around the world”, it left at 7 PM, traveled over 28,000 miles and was relayed by 16 different operators. It arrived back at The Times only 16.5 minutes later. The building where the message originated is now called One Times Square and is best known for where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Completed

Cyrus West FieldAugust 5, 1858

After four failed attempts, American merchant Cyrus West Field succeeds in completing the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable. Completed approximately two months after construction began, the cable is only operational for just over a month. However, this cable proved the feasibility of transatlantic communications and Cyrus West Field raised new funds to complete the first permanent telegraph line in 1866.

First Transcontinental Phone Call

Final Pole Transcontinental Telephone ServiceJuly 29, 1914

The first test call is made on the newly completed transcontinental telephone line, taking place between New York and San Francisco. The last pole was erected and the line completed two days earlier on July 27th, but commercial service did not start until January 25th of the next year. The sixth month delay was due to AT&T’s wish to publicize the service in conjunction with San Francisco’s 1915 World Fair.

First International Communications Satellite

Telstar IJuly 10, 1962

The world’s first international communications satellite, Telstar I, is launched into orbit. A collaboration between the US, Britain, and France, Telstar I introduced the world to trans-Atlantic video feeds and ushered in a new era of communication.

The Transition to Transistors Begins

Replica of First TransistorJune 30, 1948

Originally designed to create improvements to electromechanical relays and vacuum tubes in telephone switching equipment, Bell Labs holds a press conference in New York to publicly demonstrate the first point-contact transistor. The transistor represents a significant advance in technology. As it is developed over the next few years, it will become the successor to the vacuum tube, the primary method of controlling electronic circuitry at the time. The use of transistors allows the development of the integrated circuit and microchips which kickstarted the rapid advance of electronic and computerized technology over the last 60 years. Every industry that utilizes technology, from communications to computers to space travel to video games to media, owes a great deal to the development of the transistor.